Imperfect Perfection


By Michelle Xin

金継ぎ(きんつぎ) – Kintsugi

A Japanese art form; to repair and mend together broken pottery with lacquer mixed with, or dusted with powdered precious metals.

Instead of seeing cracks and breaks with shame, or with the compulsion to disguise and hide them, this art form works to highlight their beauty. The imperfections discover their own realm of perfection; one which cannot be replicated, and should instead be treasured in each and every form. It means that brokenness does not spell the end of the pottery’s use, but that it can be repaired and can continue to be of service, and take on new dimensions of artistry and strength. That what once was fragile or thin has now been reinforced, and each line which once symbolised a separation or a fracture has now been brought back together and unified.

The story this pot’s metallic accents now tells is more, not less than what it was previously, and will continue to evolve, age, and gain even more, enriching the elements and the characters which traverse the paths and rivers carved by the cracks.

We too, may have cracks and breaks.

Perhaps, we may even see ourselves, or a part of ourselves, as broken.

But if Kintsugi can teach us anything, it is our incredible worth and value – even when we may not perceive it or dare to believe in its possibility.

Shortcomings and failures can fill us with shame, guilt, embarrassment, self-deprecation, disappointment, anger, frustration. They may seem to form cracks in our character and our identity – the idea that we cannot accomplish or achieve in this particular situation. It isn’t difficult to stress this hairline fracture into a break, and suddenly we think we are incapable, not enough, never enough.

If this happens, it is the cracks and the breaks we see. It is the failure, the question unanswered, the rejection, the awkward stumble, the lack-lustre response, the could-have-beens, the should-have-beens, the what-ifs that our minds ruminate on, and perhaps overthink and exacerbate and catastrophise in the process.

And yet these cracks and breaks require substance to form within. And even if the pieces are scattered on the ground, by no means does that invalidate what it once was, nor does it undermine what it will become.

You are more, so much more, than just those shortcomings. You are an artwork, a mosaic, a tapestry of experience and beauty and wonder.

And in the case of any crack or break, they deserve to be repaired and mended, and not only that, accepted, appreciated and loved.

The gold in the lacquer glistens. You do too, not just the cracks, but as a whole.


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