Appreciating Imperfection – The Japanese art of Kintsugi

by Nim Gholkar

Have you heard of Kintsugi?

It’s the Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics by using powdered gold.

Once upon a time, a Japanese shogun (military leader) was upset because his favourite ceramic tea-bowl broke. He sent it for repairs. When the workmen returned it, the leader did not like the ugly metal staples that were used to put the broken pieces together. So he ordered a special team of artisans to solve the problem. They used powdered gold to join the broken ceramic bowl but in such a way that the imperfections could still be seen. Magically, those imperfections were exactly what made the tea-bowl beautiful. And so was born the Japanese art of Kintsugi, which teaches us to appreciate the poignant beauty of flaws and imperfection.

Here’s how to apply Kintsugi to our everyday life:

When you look closely in the mirror and notice the wrinkles and sagging skin, you think to yourself ‘I’m not young and beautiful anymore’.

Do you know what earned you those wrinkles?

The many heartbreaks over the years…the challenges you had to overcome…the arguments you had to walk away from…the tears you had to gulp….the friendships you had to navigate as you battled peer pressure…..the bullies you had to stand up to and stare in the eye….And as you dodged the punches life threw at you, you picked up wisdom, serenity, resilience. Do you not see all that when you look in the mirror? Because you should.

You may not be young anymore…true.

But beautiful? Ah, the beauty of wisdom and resilience. Who can be more beautiful than someone who’s learned to stand up and be counted? There’s so much beauty in you. Look again in the mirror….past the wrinkles and sagging skin….and you’ll see it.

Nim Gholkar, 2021

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