When being broken becomes synonymous of strength
Thus, you will remember very well the meaning of the word that contains pure resilience: Kintsugi.
We have all had (and will continue to have) falls, mistakes, regrets. And they’ve probably:
- Injured on multiple emotional and/or mental levels.
And to be fair, it may be that at some point, we may have done the same to other people unconsciously or without really wanting to do so.
At some point, we’ll be exposed to doing or hurting us. However, the interesting thing is HOW to interpret that experience in any of its senses.
It all started with a story in the East.
WHAT BREAKS, IS RE-CREATED
“Memory and imagination are the best weapons of the resistant.” Josep Maria Esquirol
Japan’s Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu more than 500 years ago, at his Tea Ceremony, broke a highly appreciated ceramic object for him.
So, he had it fixed to China and when he received it again, he realized that the pieces were joined with some metal staples.
Shogun didn’t like that in any way, so he gave the order to his best craftsmen to create a much more appropriate solution.
What they did was a method that did NOT disguise the damage of the ceramic piece and even, it was, toning with lacquer and gold powder, the joints of the pieces.
Giving rise to the word Kin-tsugi which means:
Assembled with gold.
Thus, for centuries, several Zen masters developed the principle that every vase, cup or bowl that was damaged or broken, should not get rid of it, but be repaired (and unified) with the utmost respect, care and attention.
This symbolizes reconciliation between damage (attention errors, accidents, the passage of time) and the implicit value of recreating itself (the gold-enriched piece).
The care and love applied to the shattered pieces must raise our awareness and motivate us to value much more than what has been damaged and fractured, and then be recomposed back into one piece.
In other words, what became vulnerable and imperfect AFTER passing its TRANSFORMATION and (RE)CONSTRUCTION process, must be emphasized.
A KEY ELEMENT FOR RECONSTRUCTION
“You have to let yourself be carried away by everything, give yourself to everything, but at the same time keep calm and be patient. There is only one way of evolution that starts with overcoming yourself.” Franz Kafka
There is no recomposition or resurgence without PATIENCE.
Just as we can see in the kintsugi procedure, the drying process is a determining factor. Resin takes weeks, sometimes months, to harden. And it is precisely this that guarantees its durability, its strength, and its value.
In itself, kintsugi is a ritual of love, of consideration but above all of the PATIENCE.
For this reason, being so opposed to our Western culture, it becomes so useful, when growth options are scarce, and views become narrow and one-sided.
It is countercultural and counterintuitive to us but at the same time, it holds an undeniable truth. An artistic and in-depth perspective on life, personal growth, and continuous learning.
As Marta Rebón mentions:
“The philosophy linked to kintsugi can be extrapolated to our current life, full of cravings for perfection. So, this technique has become a powerful metaphor for the importance of resistance and self-love in the face of adversity.”.
Of course, this requires COURAGE, TEMPERANCE, and HUMILITY.
It takes to overcome pride and shame.
Even when all of us are full of fractures and imperfections.
Sometimes you have to be brutally vulnerable to create a brutal fortress…
THE RESULT MAY BE SOMEWHAT HIGHER
The ritual involves teaching.
Consciously doing something that enriches you personally makes you something much more than being sturdy or strong.
That can go even beyond resilience.
True strength lies not in rigidity but in the ability to re-establish, to project, and to grow.
He called this Nicholás Taleb Nassim, “ANTIFRAGILE” in his book of the same name in 2013. Where he also made a clear differentiation in concepts:
- Fragile: Weak, brittle, with ease of fragmentation.
- Tough: Resistant. Signatures.
- Resilience: Ability to adapt positively to adverse situations.
So “antifragility” is born as an opposite term to fragility but it doesn’t necessarily mean to be robust or resilient. In this way, the main feature is not only to be resistant and adaptable but also TO IMPROVE in the face of adversity and external stressors.
When something non-living is stressed, fatigued, or broken.
The table of our house, our car, clothes, etc., will be worn out and will not be able to repair themselves. They may be robust, but they can’t be inherently anti-fragile.
On the contrary, living beings and complex systems behave very differently. They are made up of components that interact with each other, exchanging information through stressors. And that’s precisely why they can become anti-fragile.
NOTE: Nicholas Taleb himself mentions that the anti-fragile can face BLACK SWANS (large-scale, unpredictable, irregular events with very far-reaching consequences that surprise and harm its observers, does it ring a bell?). But I’d better leave it there because it gives for a separate subject.
If a careful, loving ritual with a noticeably clear intention to revalue can do so much for the object that it is broken, what things can it do for a person?
That’s when Kintsugi teaches us THIS:
Breakages and repairs are part of the story and should be shown rather than hidden. Thus, by revealing its transformation, the scars embellish its wearer.
And as a tribute, with a brief thought, I want to end by saying that I like them…
I like people with broken souls.
Those that have been broken more than once.
People who have learned to unite their wounded fragments with artistic courage.
I admire those people who don’t hide the scars of the past and that as in the Japanese millennial art kintsugi,
they have become master craftsmen, exalting their imperfections.
People who have proudly covered in gold the remnants of past destruction,
making it the most beautiful demonstration of resilience and adaptation.
The passage of time does not have such a sublime vestige that a life…
of a person with a broken soul…