‘Start afresh’ – we often hear this phrase from our elders, friends, and acquaintances, especially after we have come across any failure. This is just an example of how we want everything to be perfect, by trying to undo what caused the failure in the first place. The lure of perfection extends to almost everything – to our choices, decisions, and even to the things we own.
In fact, chasing after perfection is so deeply inculcated within us, that we rush to discard or replace anything that is broken (and hence, imperfect). But this approach is, unfortunately, unsuitable when we are dealing with our own broken selves.
A centuries-old Japanese tradition, kintsugi, offers us a different approach. This traditional art form repairs broken objects, like ceramic or pottery, while highlighting the cracks to add to the value and beauty of the object. As a result, the object’s flaws are displayed in its full grandeur instead of trying to hide it in a bid to make it look perfect. In this technique, lacquer, mixed with a powder of precious metals such as gold, silver, or even platinum, is used to mend the broken object. The repaired product, as a result, is much more valuable than the original, as the golden or silver lines that show off the cracks give it a different kind of beauty.
The idea of kintsugi is applicable to not only fragile objects but to our lives as well. This philosophy believes in accepting our imperfections instead of trying to disguise them.
Taking inspiration from this concept, we have developed kiintsugii, a well-knitted community aiming to be the golden mixture that heals and rebuilds people, so that they embrace their uniqueness.
You might wonder why we have doubled the ‘i’s in the word. At kiintsugii, we believe that nobody should stand alone, especially when they are dealing with a personal setback. One ‘i’ stands for an individual, therefore we have doubled it to make it a ‘we’, and the two ‘we’ in the word come together to signify a community. That is what we aim to be – a community of many ‘i’s coming together to provide support to each other.
The Origins Of The Tradition
The word kintsugi (金継ぎ) comes from the two Japanese words – kin (gold) and tsugi (join). So, in the literal sense, it means ‘to join with gold’. It is said to have originated during the 15th century when Ashigaka Yoshimasa was the shogun (military leader) of Japan.
The story goes that the shogun once broke his favourite tea bowl and sent it to China to be repaired. The bowl came back with the pieces stapled together with metal pins, as was the usual practice in the country in those days.
Greatly disappointed with the result, the shogun turned towards the local Japanese craftsmen to come up with a way to repair it. The craftsmen mended the cracks with a mixture of lacquer and gold, making it look more aesthetically pleasing. Thus the art form of kintsugi was born.
The Importance Of Kintsugi In Our Lives
The philosophy of kintsugi is based on embracing our flaws and imperfections as integral parts of ourselves. Instead of trying to hide them, we should accept and learn from them, and in the process, become a better version of ourselves.
At kiintsugii, we aim towards using kintsugi as a way of living a better life. Our belief is that if a person going through any misfortune (such as job loss, miscarriages, etc.) has the right resources close by, they will find it easier to cope with the ordeal.
All of us go through traumatic events, instead of allowing those to put us down, we need to learn from the experiences and find a path forward. Remember, all the challenges that we go through play a role in shaping us, in making us as different and unique as each bowl that is repaired through kintsugi.
Is the repaired bowl perfect? No, it is not. Although, it is now more valuable and unique, as it proudly wears the results of the experience it has gone through. Similarly, there is nothing shameful in showing your flaws or failures. It is only proof of your resilience. Therefore, accepting kintsugi as a way of living a better life is ideal for our individual growth.
Acceptance Is The Key
Life is never perfect, but instead of accepting this fact, we often tend to run towards perfection, believing that we will be able to bring it within our grasp.
This is especially true in this era of social media, where all of us are aiming to appear to be in a better position than we actually are. A comparison with others on social media may make one feel inferior, compelling them to wear a disguise of happiness or success.
Studies have raised concerns over the negative effects of spending too much time on social media on our mental health. Further, if you are already suffering from a setback such as unemployment, it can make you feel more disappointed with your life as you watch others attaining success.
We are afraid of being ourselves, showing our scars or vulnerabilities to others, but it is a fact that none of our lives are free from ups and downs. Everyone goes through failures or setbacks at some point and being embarrassed about them is the last thing you should do.
Joining a community of empathetic individuals can be of much help while you are suffering from any setback. Being a part of such a community can provide encouragement to individuals suffering from similar problems, as it gives them the hope that it can be overcome. We also understand that sometimes these connections may not be enough. A person going through a difficult time after losing his or her job or suffering some other setback may also require some professional help, there is no replacement for that.
We know how difficult it can be for people to summon the courage to reach out to a mental health expert, so we have endeavoured to make the process easier. Everyone in our community can, quite effortlessly, engage the services of mental health and personal development professionals, who may be of help in putting them on the right track.
No matter how broken you feel after a certain incident or experience, with proper assistance, you will emerge from it stronger and better than you were. The bowl may have cracked into several pieces, but here it stands in all its beauty, having overcome the damage visible through the many golden lines on it.
Your Scars Define Your Individuality
Many people swear by the use of kintsugi as a way of living a better life. A major reason is that no matter what you have gone through, you still have something to learn from it. All of us have different experiences- you may be suffering from the loss of a loved one or may have been fired from your job recently.
There is nothing to be ashamed of about your scars. They signify that you were hurt, but you recovered from it. You may not be perfect and you don’t need to be either. However, you could transform into something better, just like the bowl with the shining gold streaks on it.
As all our experiences differ, so do the scars. Our scars are reminders of what we went through and what we overcame through our efforts. They can help us avoid making the same mistakes again. Our scars make us, us.
Just like each piece of pottery joined together using the tradition of kintsugi is unique, and no two pieces can break in the exact same way, so are we.
Embracing kintsugi as a way of living a better life can help anyone suffering from a negative incident. It is a reminder that a thing does not always lose its value if broken. Instead, through repair, it can emerge stronger and more valuable than it was.
It also teaches us the importance of scars. Flaunting them doesn’t make us seem ugly, and on the contrary, it serves as a badge of all the sufferings we have faced and overcome.
You might be wondering how finding the right community that will help you overcome your adversities will result in a better you? Community support can help you overcome the things holding you back from shining in life. Similar to the golden lacquer used to rejoin the pieces of an object, supportive people can help you in mending the cracks that may have developed in your confidence and self-esteem.
We at kiintsugii are a community aiming to help you deal with the setbacks you face in life. Join our community and take your first step towards healing through embracing your scars. Come, flaunt your scars with pride as you show the world your worth!
References and further reading