What does it mean to be beautifully broken?

The Japanese have a word: Japanese_technique_of_kintsugi_gold_leaf1-e1470131248721kinsugi. Wikipedia describes it as the art and philosophy of repairing a broken object with elegance and grace using gold or silver, not hiding the imperfection but honoring and embracing it as part of the history of the object. This “golden joinery” turns the flaw into something unique and quite more beautiful than before because now, something precious shines through the cracks.

It’s a useful metaphor for so many of us, isn’t it? Some strive for perfection but find it unattainable or maybe unsustainable. Some of us desperately want others to believe we lead perfect lives despite the shame we feel over our flaws. Some of us lived charmed lives that were shattered by fastballs from nowhere. Sometimes our pain remains buried because we have no way to tell our story. Some of us bring it on ourselves because we think we’re not worthy, regardless of where that idea sprouted. Some of us awaken to the realization that we are held back: quieted, stifled. And yet there are some among us who are startled to discover we have outgrown our own skin. The cracks form from within and burst forth with a blinding light, as you see in the photo of Expansion, the mesmerizing sculpture by Paige Bradley.

No matter how or where you are broken, the choice is yours whether to be the artist and apply the gold. It’s so easy to stay broken. It’s so incredibly easy to dwell in the negative, and focus on anger, on what’s not fair, or what went wrong, or what’s wrong with you, and let it define you, as if this is fundamentally who you are.  I know how easy it is to stay broken.

It’s not to say things don’t go awry. There isn’t a human alive who has escaped disappointment, injustice, or trauma…  Grief is real and necessary and cleansing, but the question is whether you dwell there and let it crush you or channel it to lift yourself and others. They tell us that life isn’t what happens to us but how we respond to it. No matter what: deliberately work toward creating beauty in those fissures, large or small, that now exist in yourself, your loved ones, or your community.

It is a noble way to live, weaving gold through whatever empty spaces we find and let it shine. I try to live with a perspective that is all about the gold, the art of finding positivity, grace, humor, and beauty no matter what happens. We’re all broken but do you see, do you create, beauty in it?

If that resonates with you, welcome to the club.

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