Question of the Day: “What is Kintsugi and why is it important for reflection?”

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold, but truly I think it is a metaphor for embracing all flaws and imperfections.

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Let me explain and simplify with the literal definition of a very complex process of both art and science: Kintsugi is the ancient art of repairing broken pottery with gold. 

When something is broken, be it pottery, relationships, or even an emotional state of being, we seek to fix it. Many search endlessly to find ways to repair something and make it whole again. The discomfort when something remains broken is often too much to bear. Sometimes they way we try to fix the ragged edges is helpful. Sometimes it is a poor attempt and it renders the object further useless and uglier than when we began. But Kintsugi is using gold to fill in cracks or to join the broken pieces which teaches us the value in repairing what we might otherwise feel must be thrown away completely.  Once a broken pot is repaired with gold, not only does it have greater value and strength, but is also considered to be more beautiful.

My students are tough this year. They are really sweet and kind, but their skill levels are really low. Their neediness is only outweighed by their apathy. I get it. They struggle in reading and writing. They miss school more often than they should. They hate learning, and I am the one who needs to teach them.

The ability to read and read well is a number one indicator of success. Over 65% of people who end up in prison are struggling readers.

My students are broken in pieces with anxiety, frustration, and self-loathing. They were broken by a system whose job it is to teach them.

I often wonder if all of my work amounts to anything real.

And then I learn about Kintsugi from a friend or a friend who describes the most beautiful art form, and I begin to consider.

What if the repairs I’ve made or need to make for myself, for my children, for my students are made with “gold” or in these cases “love”? Gold is a soft metal but it is precious in its limitations and the cracks though repaired still show through. Love is as well. It is fluid and soft, yet strong and durable.

What if my reparations won’t always be remembered but the vase has become more beautiful than before?

I love the idea that in this throw away culture, where people are also lost in the debris, we can hold onto the broken bits. They can be repaired and create something entirely new.

Love and Light!

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