Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joint”) or kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”) belongs to the 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 not intended to go unnoticed, on the contrary, the repair is very visible, which makes the object unique as if it had undergone a metamorphosis. Below you can see an example of an object that has undergone such a transformation.
Can we learn anything 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 disillusionment of all kinds. We can lament them like we regret that plate broken into a thousand pieces on the ground or we can rejoice (almost always if we make the effort to change our outlook) because these mistakes are nothing more or less than the seeds of a transformation as long as we want to plant them. An unfortunate experience can become an incredible springboard for life if we know how to add gold as the kintsugi masters do.
An indispensable ingredient: gold
Without gold, there is no kintsugi, the broken bowl will never look like it did, nor can it be made more like it did. But what is gold? What turns those bad memories into memorable lessons? What is the closest metaphorically to this precious metal in this situation?
It is nothing less than gratitude. Gratitude transforms a broken vase into a much more precious piece of art. It is what allows us to make sense of things where there is none at first glance. By tapping into our hearts and minds, gratitude has the ability to reproduce the art of kintsugi.
How to develop gratitude?
As we have seen, gratitude is human gold, it can accomplish wonders, but we must know how to get it. Gratitude is simply made 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 that happens is a gift from providence. I know, it’s a bit naive to think like that because it’s definitely difficult if not impossible for most of us, including me.
Other materials can be used to fill the gaps
The platinum is forgiveness
While it is not easy to be truly grateful for the ups and downs of life, there are other things that can help us, starting with the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is what allows us to heal the wounds of the heart and not to maintain the hatred that devours us from the height. It is to detach oneself from the situation and to put a little love even if it can “hurt” at first sight.
The silver metal is wisdom
Wisdom is to use your mind more than in the two previous cases. It is by using one’s intellect that one can see the benefits of a situation a little more clearly even if it seems complicated when one is overwhelmed by emotions.
Bronze is courage
Courage is about using your will to overcome hardships. It is what is most often required when one does not have the emotional or intellectual resources to face an ordeal.
Don’t break the vase or plate yourself, you don’t need to do that. If you want to gain 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 will naturally come your way, it’s up to you to welcome them and overcome them when they come your way.
Practice complete attention. When something bad happens to us, we tend to get overwhelmed by emotions. However, if you pay attention, you can clear the muddy water so that the situation doesn’t seem so bad. To do this, we need to make an effort to focus our attention on a bodily element, such as our breathing. This allows us to be both calmer and more aware of what is going on around us.
Break the rules. Often, social conventions or pressure from those around us force us to react with severity, whereas if we listen a little more to our heart, our wisdom, our intellect or our will, we can come up with a completely 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 have to go looking for inspiration. It is 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, traveling, walking in nature or talking to inspiring people, we can learn about new models that will give us new and bright paths to take.