While many of us have our own story and our own wounds, few are we who are ones capable of transforming our brokenness into art! In my last post, I spoke about meditation and promised I would tell you more about it… I will in my next post.
I felt inspired to talk about the art of Kintsugi. Maybe it’s only in my mind, but I profoundly believe it is fully related to the topic of meditation and that somehow, if we allow ourselves to find beauty in our brokenness, we can find happiness in unexpected ways.
Kintsugi is basically a Japanese philosophy that embraces the flawed or the imperfect. It is a way of giving value to the use and wear of objects, in this case ceramics. More precisely, it is the art of repairing broken ceramics by gluing the pieces back together with powdered lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum.
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The Art of Brokenness
Strangely, these broken ceramics now acquire a new and augmented value. They are no longer pieces to be thrown away and discarded like junk, but valued art. People pay a lot for those works of arts. They basically went from banal ceramics to valued art.
Well, if we apply this philosophy to our soul and being, we can find comfort in what it offers. How many times do we feel broken? No matter how big a trial we’ve been through or how big the past wounds are, we all have our own share of sufferings.
We all develop our own coping mechanisms to deal with the pain. Some will try to forget, some might consult and seek help, others will try various ways to find interior peace and healing, etc. But few are those who try to embrace their wounds and make the most of them.
You Are the Artist of Your Brokenness
I definitely believe that we can make the most of our wounds. We can definitely make them a work of art because they are now a part of us. Anyone who undergoes psychotherapy can tell you that you never truly heal, the wounds always remain. You find ways to cope with the pain and avoid negative patterns that derive from them, but never can you truly forget.
Since they are now a part of us, these wounds can be envisaged in two ways. As crutches that will keep you from being fully happy, or as an opportunity to make the most of them and find beauty in unexpected ways.
I don’t want to sound judgmental, but some of the least interesting people I’ve met are those who grew up sheltered from the world. You know, those who’ve had a personal car at a young age, who live living in luxurious houses, who have never been hungry, who have never needed to worry about money, etc. They are often the ones who take up the family business or have friends of the family that will hire them. In other words, the little struggle they know is basically a piece of pie.
I’m not saying that they don’t work hard or that they don’t deserve what they have… But life has been fairly easy for them and they quickly judge those who struggle to succeed. They’ve never had to make their way up the ladder; they were born on the upper rungs.
Well, why do I say that some of them are the worst people I’ve met? Because they are often incapable of true empathy. They might be very polite, listen to you with care, but will judge you as soon as you turn your back. They don’t know the value of sacrifice and surely don’t understand true and deep suffering. Let’s just say that they are ‘the perfect’ of the Bible!
Brokenness Makes You Beautiful
Yet, some of the nicest people I’ve met, I mean the most genuine and authentic people I’ve met, were the most F**** up! They were those who acknowledged their past wounds and made the most of them.
I could give so many examples. I am lucky enough to count many of these wonderful people in my surroundings. But, let me tell you about this guy I hold dear in my memory as I was blessed with an experience of working with the homeless in downtown Montreal.
His name is Rob. You might better understand the person if I described him as a punk! Obviously, he had the looks, the lifestyle and the downsides of it all. He had everything to scare you away. His main trait was a enormous tattoo on his throat written, “DRUNK.” So basically, looking for him, all I needed to ask for was Drunk Rob.
My best moments with him were in the mornings, that is before he would beg his way to paying for his daily dose of drugs. With what I said up to now, you might already have a mental image of the guy … or even some prejudice. You might even make up your mind in believing he is simply a drug addict and that there is little hope for guys like him.
Well, did you ever wonder why this guy ended up in the streets? Did you ask yourself what might have happened? Or do you look at these guys with contempt in your mind and heart?
You see, Drunk Rob is Canadian, but he grew up in Malawi, Africa. His dad was a Protestant missionary and brought his family to Malawi with him where he founded a church. They did not elect to live in a main city, but in the poor suburbs of Malawi. Therefore, Drunk Rob who was only a few years old, grew up as a Malawian kid.
As he turned 16 years old, his parents decided to hand the mission to another missionary and come back to Canada. Drunk Rob couldn’t identify himself with Canadians. He was scandalized at all the wealth and judgmental behaviours and couldn’t find a place where he could feel at home. That’s when he decided to run away from home and find comfort in drug abuse.
Finding Beauty in Brokenness
His life became a revolt against western values. While we overvalue aesthetics, wealth, prestige, luxury, etc., he is a scream of ugliness and brokenness. While we looked at him with disdain, he looked back with anger at what we valued because it only made us appear more egoistic and selfish.
I met him daily. Even on my days off, I’d go and hang out with the punks in one of the bunkers. I had become a member of the family. I’d often defend them against unjustified arrests and would try to help them out with food and clothes.
I will always remember that one day, when there was a concert in Place Émilie Gamelin (heart of downtown Montreal). The punks came and wanted to assist. Right away the cops showed up and pushed them away. Drunk Rob was angry and wanted to jump at one of the cops. I held him back and while holding him he screamed, “You want to make us disappear because we are a reminder of the empty values you convey! But we are not rats, we exist.” And he started crying in my arms. I remained speechless.
I felt, right then, the pain of his scream! I felt the prophecy of his being! I felt ashamed for what I valued and treasured.
You might wonder why Drunk Rob showed up as I’m talking about Kintsugi? Well, because I believe his cracks and broken pieces, make him a beautiful soul. I pray that one day, he can discover the beauty of his “art” and help others in doing the same.
So tell me, what are your broken pieces? Where do you hide the beauty of your being? I invite you to do something crazy. Buy a Kintsugi kit (buy by clicking here). Take a ceramic plate, break it and rebuild it while meditating on your deepest wounds. Once it’s done, write the date under the plate and expose it in your home. See the beauty of your brokenness and embrace it!
I’d love to see some of your Kintsugi art! Who is up for the challenge? Please make sure to subscribe and share my posts. Let’s grow as a F**** up family.
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