4 ways to fix your joins with gold
It’s something I’ve heard of before, but I heard an item about it on the radio this week which brought it back into focus. If you’ve not heard of it before, it’s the Japanese art of mending something broken (usually crockery or pottery of some sort) but instead of trying to do it so that the joins can’t be seen, the point is to make the joins beautiful and noticeable and strong. Kintsugi means ‘to join with gold’.
The origins of Kintsugi are said to date to the late 14th Century, when the Shogun of Japan, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu sent his broken favourite tea bowl for repair. When it was returned, the repair had been done badly, so he asked some local craftsmen to look at it instead. Their method celebrated the trauma that the tea bowl had been through and reflected its history, rather than trying to cover it up. Kintsugi belongs to the Zen traditions of wabi sabi where value is placed on the simple and unpretentious and where signs of ‘life’ are appreciated and respected.
I was reminded of this recently by the pictures of Princess Eugenie’s wedding dress. There has been much press coverage of the design of the dress particularly showing off the scar she has on her neck from the life-changing spinal surgery she had. Instead of trying to hide the scar, cover it up, she was proud that she had survived the condition and the surgery and demonstrated her resilience.
It’s a bit of a metaphor for life really. In this world of perceived perfection, social media celebrating perfect lives, expectations of success, any ‘defect’ is seen as a failure. In the month of World Mental Health Day when we’re all encouraged to show our support for better mental health and wellbeing, what better way to do this than to acknowledge that we’ve all got ‘joins’; none of us is perfect; we’ve all lived a life of ups and downs.
Leonard Cohen is said to have quoted “There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”
Imagine if we were all respected for who we’ve become, for the journey we’ve taken to who we are today; if our ‘joins’ were celebrated for being a true part of our authentic selves instead of being covered up, vanished, ignored. A world where we didn’t feel the need to hide, where social media reflected our real selves instead of the world we feel we need to show. We’d see a reduction in poor mental health; more genuine relationships; less pretending; probably more personal success and happiness.
So, how to do it?
1) See things from another perspective. Imagine if you felt that you prefer to wait for others to speak in meetings before you do; some may see that as a weakness – you’re not able to get your point over straight away. However, for those able to sit back and think things through, you might be more likely to take the whole picture into account before contributing, making more thoroughly thought through statements.
2) Notice how your ‘imperfections’ might be seen as something to be celebrated by other people. How many times might people have said to you ‘I wish I had your curves’ when you’re wishing to lose weight.
3) Imagine the compassion you might extend to someone else who has been through what you have. Would you respect their scars and ‘imperfections’?
4) Remember your uniqueness, what makes you ‘you’. There is no other like it; you’re not a carbon copy of anyone else. Life brings its own special events to your door and how you deal with them is your Kintsugi.
I’m not suggesting that we all wear our hearts on our sleeves; we must use our discretion when choosing who to share our innermost thoughts with. However, this is my call for us to all be authentic and not to hide; be genuine. Fix your joins with gold.