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Kintsugi Me

Last night, Tim and I attended a support group meeting via Zoom. It always makes me feel humble when I hear about other parents’ stories. I had a rotten day yesterday and I was wallowing in sorrow. The group chair likened all our experiences to a boat: we are this boat sailing along a calm river and then we suddenly, unexpectedly reach a waterfall. We drop and drop and then we land, with the cascading water still tumbling down on us. The boat eventually sails away from the waterfall but the boat is now battered from the ordeal. Slowly over time, the boat is repaired but there will be marks on it. Even repaired, you can see the damage that was done. The boat is also in a different place, at another level.

This is a very good analogy. I have gone down the waterfall, fast, unexpected and it had detrimental results. I have now steered away from the waterfall but I am damaged from the unexpected events. I have cracks and I can’t take much load, my structure is weakened. I don’t have patience, I don’t have the capacity to deal with stress, and every bit of “niceness” in me has gone though the cracks. I look back at where I was and what it could have been but I have gone down a waterfall and now I won’t be able to get back up.

The Japanese have an art known as Kintsugi. It literally means golden “kin” and joinery “tsugi”. The art embraces broken pottery and transforms what was once broken into something beautiful. Lacquer is mixed with gold dust and this is used to painstakingly piece together and mend the broken parts. The process requires a lot of patience and many months but the outcome of what was a broken piece of pottery is stunning and to some, even more beautiful than the original unbroken piece. The art emphasises the broken lines (scars) rather than hide them. The piece isn’t the same when it is repaired but has become something else; unique and beautiful, and certainly not possible if it weren’t broken in the first place.

The art of Kintsugi has many meanings but to me: it means to embrace life and accept what has happened and to make the most of what you have; the most important message for me is that something beautiful still can come out of all this. I’m not sure how or when and I don’t always remember this message but if broken pottery can be repaired to become something stunning, then I hope it will apply to all of us too. For my birthday last year, Tim got me a Kintsugi plate (see photos). I am broken and I don’t know when I will be fixed but I am determined to become a Kintsugi me.

The art of Kintsugi is very interesting. For some more information on Kintsugi try:

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