Japanese kintsugi (also known as kintsukuroi) is the ancient art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer.
This stems from the belief that the pottery item is more beautiful having been carefully repaired. What a contrast to the attitude — so common in North American society — that when something breaks we throw it away.
We live in a throw-away society: coffee cups, imperfect fruits and vegetables, fast fashion, marriages, relationships and environmental commitments are increasingly seen as disposable. I disagree with this philosophy as many things in life are better having been lovingly restored.
Life isn’t perfect, it never was and likely won’t ever be. It’s an illusion and yet we are often caught up believing if we just strive a bit more, run another focus group, eat more kale, build another road, then we’ll solve our problems but will we? I’m not convinced, and I prefer cabbage to kale anyway!
“Destination addiction,” that is constantly striving for things that will make us happy, creates an underlying stress, as we are never content with where we are today. We say: “I’ll get through the day then…” We’re always on the run saying, “when….” rather than letting moments in our day satisfy us.
As counter-intuitive as it is, learning that we’re imperfect is liberating. There is strength in knowing you can’t do it all and aren’t able to be perfect. Those you love will let you down, and you will let down those you love too, and that’s just life.
Accepting your imperfections frees you from the exhausting striving. Despite social media’s homogenous view of perfection and happiness we can live a good life, even a mediocre life and be happy enough. Being happy enough is good enough for me, as it’s real. It’s liberating and wonderful, messy and infuriating, all rolled into one.
As Gordy McLeod says in What We Did On Our Holiday (it’s available to borrow from Whistler Public Library, and on Netflix): “The truth is, every human being on this planet is ridiculous in their own way. So we shouldn’t judge, we shouldn’t fight, because in the end... in the end, none of it matters. None of the stuff.”
And he is so right.
I love the story of a water bearer in India who carried two water jars, one perfect and the other with a crack in it. The cracked jar worried that it wasn’t doing a good job as all along the path its water seeped out, and only half a jar’s worth of water ever got to the destination.
Eventually the cracked jar discovered that the water bearer had planted seeds along the path on the side that it was carried.
Unsurprisingly, that was the side beautiful flowers blossomed. No flowers grew on the side of the perfect water jar, as the water bearer hadn’t even bothered to plant seeds; there was no point as no water ever fell.
This beautifully illustrates that, despite what we may think, imperfections can lead to beautiful things. An imperfect-skinned apple still makes a delicious apple pie!
Next time something doesn’t go your way, or you’re let down, or you mess up, simply remind yourself: life is imperfect. You are wonderfully made and imperfect, but aren’t we all?
Joanna is imperfect, but she accepts herself that way.