I read about this Japanese concept called Kintsugi a few years back. I found it fascinating. It is truly Japanese. I'll tell you more...
Kintsugi. Kin meaning gold, tsugi meaning joinery. Kintsugi, the art of golden joinery.
It is said to have originated in the late 15th century, when the Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite tea bowl. He sent it to China for repairs. The chinese sent it back with large metal staples to hold the bowl together. It made the bowl look ugly.
So the shogun asked Japanese craftsmen to look for better ways to repair it, something that is more aesthetically pleasing. Thus was born Kintsugi- the art of golden repair.
I've found it of personal benefit to understand the philosophical implications of this bowl-fixing procedure. This blog-post will highlight my takeaways and learnings from the process of Kintsugi.
Here are the steps of Kintsugi, and what you can learn from them.
The breaking of the bowl
Although Kintsugi originated as repair method, it evolved into an art form where people break their bowls on purpose, so they can repair them beautifully.
Imagine you're an ancient Japanese monk. Your tea-bowl breaks. You can either throw it away, or you can fix it beautifully with Kintsugi. What do you do?
I've found it important to take this monk-like approach to life.
Think of the bowl as yourself and your life. Sometimes life breaks us all. As the owner of your life, you have two options. Would you throw it away? Would you let your problems go? Would you live like a broken person all your life? That's an option.
Or you can fix them. You can choose not to ignore or hide your problems, and instead highlight them to the world. Highlight that you once had a problem, and now you're a better version of yourself.
Kintsugi teaches you to admit your flaws, fix your life, and become better.
The hammer is what breaks the bowl. You can see it as an agent of destruction. You can blame the hammer for breaking a beautiful bowl. Or you can look at the hammer as something that is an agent for betterment. An agent that breaks a good bowl, so it can become better, so it can become beautiful.
Damage, discomfort is necessary for you to become better. Almost everyone who decides to level up in their life has had some damage. It feels bad to have something terrible happen to you, but in retrospect, it's actually good for you.
Or like the philosopher(read: rapper) NF says in his song Nate:
"But everything that breaks you down can also build your character"
Survey the pieces
Once the bowl is broken, the pieces are observed. The cracks are seen openly. It is time to strategize how to put the pieces back together.
If your life is broken, you need to properly assess and understand your situation. You need to see where the cracks are and strategize how you're going to put them back together. If you don't do this, your bowl will remain broken forever.
Glue the pieces together
Before the gold, the pieces have to be joined together with glue.
This is symbolic of the not-so-glamorous work that needs to be put in before the world notices and appreciates you.
The pieces are put together with glue. This means, for the world to notice what you're doing... you need to first start putting the pieces together. One step at a time. Start with cleaning your room. Start with making your bed after you wake up. Start with going for a quick run every morning. Small, basic steps eventually lead to better things.
The fun part. Add the gold to the cracks.
It's less about the gold and more about the highlighting of your previous flaws. Never be afraid to admit that you were a lower version of yourself a few years or months ago. Laugh about it. Highlight it.
The fact that you had cracks, but you took deliberate action to fill-in those cracks makes your story more inspiring. Everyone has a story, everyone has cracks. You owe it to yourself to fill your cracks.
The gold is symbolic of the work you did to become who you are. Highlight it.
"The world breaks everyone and afterward, many are strong in the broken places" _Ernest Hemingway
Those were my thoughts on Kintsugi, the art of bowl repair- and how it is symbolic of life.
Don't be afraid to admit your flaws. Admission of your own flaws to yourself is first step towards change.
If you found this insightful, do share it with other people.
If you love reading what I write, consider subscribing to my newsletter. I write one blog a week.