I read a fascinating online article recently about the Japanese art of kintsugi – the art of repairing broken pottery with a special laquer dusted with powdered gold, silver or platinum. It is an ancient art based on a philosophy that nothing is ever truly broken – and, as the article pointed out – a great metaphor for life in general.
The art of Kintsgi emphasises the damage rather than hiding it. “Kintsugi beautifies the breakage and treats it as an important part of the object’s history, and the broken pot not as something to discard, but as something more precious than it was before. “ (Mercedes Smith: BBC Four Japan Season).
“Despite being a highly visual technique, Kintsugi draws attention to the life, rather than the look of a pot…… “To throw the pot away is to destroy its unique story. To repair it the Kintsugi way is to continue its tale of adventure and triumph.”
In the western world, we discard too easily anything that is flawed, and that doesn’t only go for objects, but people too. But the damage is part of the story, the life, the history of the object or person.
I like that.
In my own life, certainly I have achieved great successes, along with some spectacular failures and dramatic crashes. Each and every one of these experiences makes up my life and history. Each and every one of them is part of who I am today.
We are human beings. We make mistakes. It’s part of who we are. Sometimes we simply fail or don’t quite make it. Sometimes we make flawed decisions. Sometimes we create our own catastrophes and crises. Sometimes we simply “get it wrong”.
On a personal level it can be difficult enough, but if you happen to be in the public eye in any way, it can be disastrous.
But wait….don’t throw it away. Don’t discard the broken pot. Don’t dismiss the person behind the behaviour, the incident, the debacle.
Good therapy can be about repairing the damage. Great therapy is about enabling the client to incorporate the damage into a new life with a rich history.
Using the crucible of the therapy space to find the seam of gold to repair the brokenness sounds to me a beautiful and honouring way of working with that brokenness.
It seems to me that it recognises the treasure that we are as human beings. It recognises the thread of gold in this flawed world. It recognises that life is too precious to discard even with the broken bits.
Anyone who has watched any of the tv auction valuation programmes will easily recognise and acknowledge that objects with repairs are just as valuable, and sometimes even more so, than those in unblemished condition.
They have a rich story to tell. All of it.