Mended with Gold
Maybe you have seen the memes of ceramics repaired with gold. They often have this picture
and go on to define kintsugi or kintsukuroi as the art of repairing ceramics or pottery with precious metals, with the inherent understanding that the pieces are more beautiful because of the damage.
I’ll be honest. The first time I saw this meme, I was moved. But then I saw it too many times, and it started to feel hokey, like all inspirational memes kind of do. At least to me. Maybe my hokey-meter is too sensitive.
However, I have been thinking. I have been thinking about friends, and life, and how much harder things are than I thought they were.
I lived kind of a charmed life for the first–well, I don’t know how many–but most of the years of my life. It’s not that everything was perfect–I had my own middle-school social problems, occasional family conflicts, and boyfriend issues, but in the global sense, my life was charmed. I still managed to be heinously insecure (refer to small problems above), but nothing ever went truly, catastrophically wrong, and I didn’t expect that it ever would.
But the last few years have been really rough. I feel like real life didn’t start until I was nearing or in my thirties, and it turns out real life is hard. I still feel pretty blessed, overall, as my children are healthy (now) and I have enough work (for now), and I’m still managing to scrabble along in a way that many people haven’t been able to. But still, these years have been hard on my psyche, as I’ve gone through internal, family hardships and the somewhat more external friends’ and community hardships.
I have come to understand that none of us are protected from hardship or pain. I always knew I didn’t “deserve” my charmed life more than those who did not have one, but I still felt insulated. And I’m not.
But here’s where that doggoned broken bowl comes in. I feel drawn to those around me who have been beaten down, and even a little broken. They feel richer, more full of depth, like full-grown men and women. Hell, they even look better than the clean, twenty-year-old faces I once admired. They feel more likely to accept me for who I am, which I need, because sometimes I’m a little broken too. Sometimes we scare each other with our brokenness, but time and maturity wear down those sharp edges.
This made me think that my original take on that meme was right. Being broken and surviving it, scars and all, is beautiful.