Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joint”) or kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”) belongs to Japanese tradition. As the name suggests, it involves repairing broken objects, most often earthenware such as dishes, bowls or vases, with gold joints. This process is by no means intended to go unnoticed; on the contrary, the repair is highly visible, making the object unique, as if it had undergone a metamorphosis. Below you can see an example of objects that have undergone such a transformation:
Is there anything in particular we can learn from this process? Beyond the technical aspect, is there a philosophy that can be developed or an even more valuable metaphor that can be drawn from it?
The broken vase is your failures, your experiences…
Life is made up of bad experiences, disappointments, mistakes and disillusions of all kinds. We can lament them the way we lament that plate broken into a thousand pieces on the floor, or we can rejoice in them (almost always if we make the effort to change our outlook), because these mistakes are nothing more or less than the seeds of transformation, provided we’re willing to plant them. An unfortunate experience can become an incredible springboard for life, if you know how to add gold, as kintsugi masters do.
An essential ingredient: gold
Without gold, there is no kintsugi: the broken bowl will never resemble what it once was, nor can it be made to resemble what it once was. But what is gold? What turns bad memories into memorable lessons? What comes closest metaphorically to the precious metal in this situation?
Nothing less than gratitude. Gratitude transforms a broken vase into a much more precious work of art. It’s what allows us to make sense of things where, at first glance, there’s none. By tapping into our hearts and minds, gratitude has the power to reproduce the art of kintsugi.
How to develop gratitude?
As we’ve seen, gratitude is human gold. It can work wonders, but you need to know how to get it. Gratitude is created simply by saying thank you to the universe for the things that happen to us, whatever they may be. It’s looking at the world as if every event were a gift from providence. It’s probably a little naive to think like this, as it may seem difficult or even impossible in certain situations.
Other materials can be used to fill the gaps
Platinum is forgiveness
While it’s not easy to be truly grateful for life’s ups and downs, there are other things that can help us, starting with the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is what allows us to heal the wounds of our hearts, and to avoid the hatred that devours us from the top down. It’s about letting go of the situation and putting a little love into it, even if it “hurts” at first sight.
Silver is wisdom
Wisdom means using your mind more than in the previous two cases. It’s by using our intellect that we can see the benefits of a situation a little more clearly, even if it seems complicated when we’re overwhelmed by emotions.
Bronze is courage
Courage is about using willpower to overcome adversity. It’s what’s most often required when we have neither the emotional nor the intellectual resources to face an ordeal.
Here are a few recommendations:
- Don’t break the vase or plate yourself – you don’t need to. If you want to acquire new experiences, you can voluntarily take a little more risk than usual without getting into trouble. Life is like that, you don’t have to go looking for trouble or challenges, they’ll naturally present themselves on your path, it’s up to you to welcome them and overcome them when they arise.
- Practice complete attention. When something goes wrong, we tend to let our emotions overwhelm us. However, if we pay attention, we can clear this murky water so that the situation doesn’t seem so terrible after all. To do this, we need to make the effort to focus our attention on a bodily element, such as our breathing. This allows us to be both calmer and more attentive to what’s going on around us.
- Break the rules. Often, social conventions or pressure from those around us force us to react harshly, whereas if we listen a little more to our heart, our wisdom, our intellect or our will, we can come up with an entirely different solution. By daring to break the rules, we can follow rules that are no longer quite human, but divine in a way.
- Find your muse. Sometimes, to do the right thing, we need to find inspiration. It’s by thinking outside the box that we can best propose the best possible solution to a given situation. To find inspiration, we simply need to put ourselves in a context that exposes us to different people or ideas, in such a way that they can represent models for us. By reading, travelling, walking in nature or talking to inspiring people, we can learn about new models that will give us new, luminous paths to follow.