The Beauty in Our Broken Selves
The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
Ernest Hemingway (author)
There’s a beautiful form of Japanese art called Kintsugi where a ceramic piece such as a bowl or cup is intentionally broken and then pieced back together with a powdered metallic like gold, silver or platinum. Rather than hide the breakage, this form of art highlights the breaks as part of the object’s story. The result is a gorgeous art piece with veins where the pieces are welded back together. By virtue of being broken, it’s more beautiful.
I read about this years ago and found it to be one of the most poetic things I’ve ever heard.
As children, if we’re fortunate, we grow up in homes where there’s at least someone in our lives that tries to protect us from unnecessary pain—the pain of disappointment, injury or heartbreak. They protected us knowing that at some point, we’ll leave the nest and be on our own to live in the world and experience everything it has to offer—the good, the bad and the ugly. As we continue into adulthood, despite our plans to protect ourselves, things happen that stress us. Some outcomes are self-imposed and some out of our control like the loss of a loved one, a sudden illness or an unexpected betrayal.
These experiences all create kinks and cracks in our protective armor.
In response, some of us go into self preservation mode and subconsciously or consciously make decisions to protect ourselves. We avoid pursuing relationships for fear of heartbreak. We stay in a toxic job/workplace because it's easier than making a change and facing the unknown. We preemptively hold ourselves back thinking that will keep us safe. But that’s not really what life’s about, is it? Just safely going through the motions to avoid stress and pain?
I believe some amount of stress is healthy. Putting ourselves in situations that scare us and challenge us is a good thing. I also think we’re all more beautiful because of the experiences that we’ve had to endure—the stories that make us who we are. I heard from a speaker the other day that, “no matter what you’ve been through, no matter how bad, you’re still here. Whatever maker you believe in, they pulled you through”. You can’t really argue with that, can you?
We’re now in the third month of 2019 and I’m sure all of us had goals and intentions that we laid out at the beginning of the year. How are you doing with those goals? Are you playing it safe or are you challenging yourself? How can you pressure test your life a bit more to be better than your 2018 self? Or your yesterday self?
Wherever you are, please know that you still have plenty of time to add a bit of stress, so let’s get cracking! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself) :)