Today’s topic is about the “Beauty Born out of Brokenness”.
This is a super general question, but have you had anything broken in life… like have you had glasses or precious toys break? Has your computer or car broken down on you?
What do you do when things break on you? Do you try to repair and save them, or do you throw them away? Of course, sometimes it will make more sense to replace them with something new, other times, unquantifiable value is preserved to something broken; money can’t buy sentiment.
Next question is “have you ever had anything intangible broken in life… such as promises, goals, relationships. These are tough. I happen to have many. The dreams that my efforts fell short of. A relationship with another human that’s been broken. Opportunities that have been lost. No matter how it happened, it is disappointing and painful simply because something isn’t just repairable or replaceable. When it’s gone, it's gone.
You may ask yourself why this happened. What went wrong? And you wish you could have been better and wiser. I assume that you all have been through something similar.
My last question is “Have you ever been broken?” When you feel broken, you may feel shame and your pride may hurt. It's painful and you may go through rough times. You know that you cannot remain broken forever but it’s so hard to pick yourself up. So what do you do? How can you move forward?
So today, I want to share the message of Kintsugi, which gives a whole new way of looking at yourself and outlook of your future. It is especially for those of us who are in difficult situations but also for everyone, even if you are doing alright in this moment. Because life promises no place of safety and we humans are always subjected to brokenness. In life, we risk loss and pain. We risk being acted upon by forces outside our control.
As you may know, kintsugi is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery. Kintsugi technique uses a special tree sap lacquer to put pieces back together with powdered gold dusted over it. Beautiful seams of gold in the random cracks of pottery gives a whole new “one-of-a-kind” appearance to each “repaired” piece.
While Kintsugi offers practical aspects of saving the pottery and giving them a second life, there is so much more about the aesthetic beauty and philosophy of kintsugi that we can appreciate and learn from. So let’s go over them.
First, Kintsugi recognizes the fractures and damages as part of the history of an object. Not only is there no attempt to hide or disguise them, but it also literally illuminates them by using gold, which often makes the repaired piece even more beautiful than the original. It celebrates the revitalization of the broken pottery with a new look and embraces its imperfection.
Secondly, Kintsugi relates to the Japanese philosophy of Mushin, where Mu (無) is nothing and shin (心) is our mind. Mushin refers to the state of “no-mind”, free from attachment, anger, fear, or all other thoughts and emotions. It is the idea of acceptance of changes, fate, as well as openness to what’s new while fully existing within the moment. Zen Buddhists, Daoists, artists, and martial artists, and many others attempt to reach this state during their practice, meditations, and everyday activities.
Christy Bartlett, the author of “The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics” said this:
The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject. This poignancy or aesthetic of existence has been known in Japan as mono no aware, a compassionate sensitivity, or perhaps identification with things outside oneself.
Kintsugi fosters the idea that a brokenness in itself and of itself can be a beautiful state, and we can always begin a new start despite the past failures. I also want to emphasize on the power of accepting imperfection and being open to change. It helps us break free from the obsession of perfectionism.
What is even more powerful is that when we experience brokenness and acceptance, we often find a new way to express ourselves to have breakthroughs occur. It helps us liberate ourselves, unlock creativity that is fearless and open for experimentation, and reach a different mindset, one that wouldn't have been forced out otherwise. Tony Robbins famously said, “There is no breakthrough without a breakdown”.
I think Kintsugu pottery is so beautiful. Each one is unique and poignantly crafted. If you feel broken, or if you have been broken, you are beautiful because of your cracks and because of your imperfection. But even better, you are soon to experience something even more beautiful and extraordinary to come of brokenness.
That’s all for today! If you like the video, please like it, subscribe it, or leave a comment. Thank you for watching, see you next time!
· Christy Bartlett, “The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics”.
· Bell Hooks, “The practice of love offers no place of safety. We risk loss, hurt, pain. We risk being acted upon by forces outside our control.”