Golden Joinery

The Japanese art form of Kintsugi, translated as “golden joinery”, has fascinating implications. First practiced in the 15th century, it is the art of repairing broken pottery by joining the breakage with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum adding value to the breakage rather than covering it up. The break becomes a part of the history of the object and its imperfections are embraced by embellishing them with precious metals that highlight cracked lines. A flawed object is not discarded, nor is its usefulness deemed finished.

But our society places a premium on shiny new objects. Unflawed, machine-made perfection is more highly valued than an object with a history of human interaction. Draw a line down the middle and each side is the mirror-image of the other. Yet, draw a line down the center of your face and the left and right sides are not mirror images. That’s what it is to be human, our left and right sides are not identical.

What is the significance of comparing human life to Kintsugi? Trying to be perfect in appearance and actions is stressful at best and utterly impossible. Why try to fit into an image of youth bursting with energy (probably caffein-induced) in a perfectly proportioned body? True, essential value comes through wisdom acquired by the experience of living. One with inner power does not try to exert force over someone else but demonstrates the difficult lessons of kindness and patience. Everything of importance that we have acquired came through being broken and having the courage to gather the pieces and glue them together with an appreciation for the beauty of their imperfection.

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