What Japanese Pottery Can Teach Us About Feeling Flawed


"Ring the bells that can still ring.Forget your perfect offering.There is a crack in everything.That is how the light gets in."

- Leonard Cohen, Anthem

Kintsukuroi ("golden mend") is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery using lacquer resin laced with gold or silver.As well as a nifty form of repair, kintsukuroi has a deeper philosophical significance. The mended flaws become part of the object's design, and some people believe the pottery to be even more beautiful having gone through the process of being broken and repaired.Through kintsukuroi, the cracks and seams are merely a symbol of an event that happened in the life of the object, rather than the cause of its destruction.Like pots, bowls, cups, and plates, we endure our own bumps and scrapes. We experience drops from a dizzying height and unexpected knocks.Sometimes we experience things that plant the seeds of shame: rejection, betrayal, abandonment, failure. So we try to avoid experiences that leave us vulnerable to these feelings as much as possible, lest the people around us see the evidence of just how imperfect, flawed, and "not good enough" we really are.In other words, we stay hidden in the cupboard, right behind the best silver, because we don't want to get a chip, a crack, or a complete break.That's not to say that I believe trauma or tragedy automatically makes us more beautiful—I don't. I've known people who have dealt with these things and come out on the other end about as ugly as it gets.I do believe these experiences change us though—and I think we have a choice.We can choose to reject our bitter experiences and flaws, to wish and will them away, to regret, to pine, and to live in the land of "If only..." We can disguise with false-self personas, cover up with defences, distract with busyness.Or we can choose to see these experiences for what they are: our golden seams.The times when we get scratched, chipped, cracked and broken can feel totally shitty, but there can also be a strange beauty in the way we process them and the lessons we take from them afterwards... if we want.Our experiences don't define us, but they do influence us. We can decide to hide, or we can decide to embrace these experiences that have shaped us in some small way, the experiences to which we've applied our own special coating of gold-laced resin. We can decide to cover up, or we can decide to walk out into the world as ourselves, mended breaks and all.Your story is yours to be told. Embrace the experiences that have influenced you.Where are your golden seams?Further reading: Struggling with Authenticity? Read This for Inspiration. & What Japanese Pottery Can Teach Us About Feeling Flawed

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