Kintsukuroi (n.) (v.phr.) "to repair with gold"; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

Kintsukuroi. I didn't know this word until today.

I have many friends with a disability, and almost as many friends who are parents of children with disability. It is a difficult life. There are barriers at every turn - access barriers, societal barriers, systems that do not work. Life is often harder, much harder, than it should be.

I looked at this picture, exquisitely broken, perfection in the repair. Not a hairline crack, cleverly concealed, but a ghastly shattering that is resolved by art, improved by disaster.

It made me think of others who have been broken in one way or another. Their bodies or minds or spirits, cracked or crushed in accidents or by some callous intent. I have many friends who are recovering from an injury to the mind or spirit - just as many who have experienced a life-changing blow to the body.

Kintsukuroi. After the intial shattering, the bowl lies in pieces, unable to be used. It takes careful effort and the help of others to piece together the shards and fit them together.

You can see the cracks. The trembling of a hand, the slight stutter in a voice. Limbs that are stilled forever, minds that work differently. The cracks are there for everyone to see.

And gradually, the gold is smoothed into the cracks and polished to a luminous sheen until it looks like it was there by design.

I no longer see the wheelchair or the paralysed limbs. I see how perfectly a paralysed hand is cupped, as if nestling something small and fragile. I see patience and grace where others would bleed anger and frustration. I feel the preciousness of every breath that is taken, more precious for the struggle.

I see the effect of the break, and the differences, life-before, life-after. But not as disaster or deficit. The catastrophic moment when the mind has suffered a blow, the slow recovery...prelude to a growing of compassion, an understanding of pace and limitation, a new appreciation for the slow and the small and the wondrous.

You can see the cracks. But the harder you look, the more you forget that the bowl is 'broken' or 'repaired'. The harder you look, the more you understand that the bowl is improved upon perfection, that the breaks have only added beauty and strength and depth.

Kintsukuroi. Learnings that come from adversity, cracks repaired by gold.

Leonard Cohen said it better than anyone.

'There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.'


  1. omg... I LOVE this! Thank you Sam, thank you Leonard Cohen, thank you Japan for another stunningly perfect word for us to embrace and be guided by (wabi-sabi being another I love)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why We Must Not Go Gently Into The Night

The Apartheid of Mainstream Feminism (or when is a woman not a woman?)