Broken Made Whole

Kintsukuroi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold resin. Done to honour the vessels, repairing the damage with gold is a process that elevates them to works of art. Part of the thinking behind this maintains that when an object suffers damage and has a history, carefully repairing the cracks with gold both ennobles, and makes it even more beautiful.

Imperfection is not so honoured in the West, but still there have been those making a case for its necessity and even its beauty. In the words of prominent Victorian social thinker John Ruskin:

“Imperfection is in some way sort of essential to all that we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, of a state of progress and change. Nothing that lives is, or can be, rigidly perfect; part of it is decaying, part nascent… And in all things that live there are certain irregularities and deficiencies which are not only signs of life, but sources of beauty… To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that the law of human life may be effort, and the law of human judgment, mercy.”

Despite the worn out nature of the metaphor, I still find it worthwhile to think of human flaws and weaknesses in this regard—to be merciful and generous in seeing them not only as signs of life, but sources of beauty as well.

It really doesn’t serve us (humanity as a whole) to bastardize the flaws and failings of one another. That only leaves mental and emotional damage in its wake. And who are we to judge the life of another or even ourselves when so little is seen, known or understood about any of it?

Better to be curious, study our flaws more intelligently and carefully, see where that leads in terms of broader understanding, and then utilize creative approaches to reparation and healing with the insight garnered.

For me that is the beauty of Kintsukuroi.

It inspires an intelligent, heart-centered approach to well-being—utilizing whatever comes our way—as means by which to augment greater depth and richness of character, transforming us from merely broken vessels to objets d’art.