How broken is beautiful…

54704732 - image of a large broken terracotta plant pot. vintage styled.

There is an old saying

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”

and I have experienced this myself on numerous occasions throughout my life…most recently with my 2 year old son Matteo.

Like many 2 year old boys, he has a thing for objects with wheels and, at the moment, a particular penchant for a toy car that is actually missing a couple of its wheels and has a rather ugly cracked and broken bonnet. He doesn’t seem at all fazed by this though and still adores the car. I, on the other hand, am rather embarrassed by his love of carrying it around when we go out and find myself excusing it to people we meet. “Oh dear, we must throw that away mustn’t we…”, I say to him within earshot of those around while thinking there is no way I can really throw it away because he will be so upset.

Anyway, the other day while Matteo was happily playing with his broken car at home, I was rushing around trying to get jobs done and clean the house up before it was time to go and pick up his older brother from school. I was overwhelmed by the amount of things to do and wondered if there would ever be a day when I truly felt that I was on top of the to-do list and that the house was really clean and tidy, with everything in its rightful place. I decided to make myself a cup of tea and, while the kettle was boiling, I flicked through Pinterest. Suddenly and randomly a pin about Kintsukuroi came up….

Kintsukuroi (or kintsugi) is a Japanese tradition of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powered gold, silver or platinum. The philosophy behind it is to treat the break and repair as part of the history of an object which ultimately makes it more beautiful rather than just damaged and broken. The repair is, therefore, not hidden but actually highlighted to show how the breakage has enhanced the object.

This concept really resonated with me and I thought immediately of Matteo and his broken car. That little toy had given him so many hours of enjoyment that he didn’t mind that it was no longer looking its best. I realised that, if anything, the fact that it didn’t look perfect any more was testament to the amount of joy it had given him and something to regard with happiness rather than scorn and embarrassment.

This lead me to think about my house and the fact that I rarely felt at ease with it; the clutter, the piles of laundry, the handprints and scuffs on the walls, the children’s toys etc. Yet all these things were part of the house and our family…these were the things that made our house a home and brought it alive. It simply wouldn’t be a family home without them.

Then I started to think about two of my favourite things to do in my spare time…to walk in nature and to visit old, historical places. I reflected on why I enjoy these activities so much and it is because they both feel soulful somehow…alive and brimming with stories. The old tree with missing branches, the ruins of a former castle….these are not perfect but so much more beautiful and interesting because of their imperfections.

I decided to patch the toy car up with coloured tape and thank my little “teacher” with a big hug.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. (Leonard Cohen)



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