It has only been in the past week that I realized that the beautiful pottery with random golden threads running through that I have admired from childhood has a name and an origin. I always figured it was an art form, but I never investigated it.
I was simply flipping through my Facebook news feed when I saw the post, and learned that I was always admiring kintsugi, the Japanese technique of repairing broken pottery with golden lacquer. As I read the post, I learned that there are traditions behind the technique — such as honoring the history of the piece and the pottery being more beautiful than before it was broken. It also is a slow and careful process to truly create a work of art and not just a repaired piece of pottery!
It occurs to me that humans are a lot like pottery. We start as beautiful, whole pieces, but then life happens and we get broken. The question is what happens next. Some people stop at that point and throw their life away as being hopeless and never seem to recover. Bitterness and other negative personality traits become the hallmarks of their character.
Those that do recover seem to resemble a human kintsugi piece. The history of the tragedy, personal loss, or devastating life event never truly goes away, but the person finds a way to rebuild their life. As they do so, they seem to develop compassion for others, a drive and passion that pushes them to make something better than it was, or other admirable qualities.
I’m not totally sure what makes the difference, but I’m sure a strong support network of people helps, as does have a strong sense of self-worth and control. A person who believes that bad things happen and then they go away recovers better than someone who is only looking for the negative things to happen.
So, what’s the take-away? I think it’s that we all have the power to become human kintsugi. Look for people who are kintsugi in your life, and learn from them. Find out what made them strong and how they learned to overcome the dark times. Put that wisdom to work in your own life!