During times that feel (and are) particularly challenging, as has often been the case in the past couple of years, we may be left wondering how to continue to find hope and healing. One thought that comes to mind is the Japanese concept of kintsugi. “Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.”
In the West, the concept of kintsugi is often paired with the phrase wabi sabi. Loosely translated, “wabi” is simplicity, whether elegant or rustic; “sabi” means the beauty of age and wear. While academics have varying definitions of this phrase, they all come back to a generalized concept of embracing that which is flawed, asymmetrical, unfinished, and imperfect. The etiology of these concepts traces back prior to the 14th century, when the phrases began to take a more “positive” feeling of noting the beauty in the imperfect and unfinished. For Richard Powell, “Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”
One can do a very deep research dive on kintsugi and wabi sabi and find some beautiful ceramics, theories, research, books, quotes, and more. As many of us tend to do, you can easily start your reading on Wikipedia, and take off from there, should you be so inclined. If you desire no further research or reading, then simply imagine yourself as a ceramic pot with a few cracks and breaks, assembled back together with gold, with light shining through. That unfinished, asymmetrical, lopsided, beautiful piece of art work is you, and it can always be repaired when, inevitably, it has a tiny (or large) crack. That, surely, is an endless source of hope.
Copyright © 2022 Melissa A. Frey, LCSW. All rights reserved.