Life can be uncertain, imperfect, and ugly at times, particularly when living amidst a global pandemic. For me, these generally become times of reflection and being an art historian, I tend to look to signs and symbols for answers to some of my questions.
What better resource than the Japanese art of Kintsugi – a 400+-year-old pottery repair method that emphasizes rather than hides the break, typically doing so with gold or platinum. According to historians, 15th c. shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite tea bowl and sent it to China for repair. Much to his displeasure, when it came back, it was covered in unsightly metal pins. Local craftsmen, acting quickly to appease him, instead filled the cracks with a golden lacquer, making it more visually appealing and valuable. The bowl quickly became the shogun’s new favorite, and a new art form was born. There are so many modern lessons to be learned here, but namely these:
1. Celebrate your imperfections. We all have them, and they do not need to be a source of embarrassment or something to be hidden. They are simply what makes us unique.
2. Inevitably, things fall apart. How resourceful can you be in putting them back together again? It can actually be a beautiful process.
3. We are all our own works of art, and life experience is what creates us. We may break and need to be rebuilt many, many times, but think of the beauty that leaves behind.
Stay well, and embrace the spirit of Kintsugi.