Kintsugi (pronounced kin = meaning “golden” + tsugi = meaning “joinery or repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the broken areas with lacquer dust mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The why behind this concept states that breakage and repair are part of the rich history of any object. It also is an act of embracing the flawed or the imperfect. Perhaps this is the perfect metaphor for 2020.
For many 2020 will be remembered as the lost year. The year we lost our job. The year we lost a family member, a friend, or a co-worker to the Wuhan virus. The year we lost our freedom. However, human beings are resilient creatures and can repair themselves as is done in the art of Kintsugi embellished with those scars which become part of our unique lives.
One of my mentors, the writer and business expert, Jeffrey Gitomer once said, “Resilience is not what happens to you. It’s how you react to, respond to, and recover from what happens to you”. The precious elements used in rejoining the pieces of our lives making us whole again may be those things that are certain in life.
You can achieve certainty by focusing first on yourself. Take the time to learn something new and build on your strengths. Again, as Gitomer says, “To read, to write, to prepare, in order to think and create.” Have the faith in yourself that you can accomplish something.
Next you can embrace the time together with family and friends. Or help and support those who are in need of your assistance. There is an awesome power in giving of yourself voluntarily to assist someone. It is a gift given, not something taken. These are the adhesives of our existence, binding our imperfections and flaws into a celebration of life.
2020 illuminated how dependent we are on those who bring us together. The producer who makes the goods or grows the crops we consume. The driver who transports those goods to market and delivers them safely. The energy worker who converts the natural, raw materials and turns them into useful entities to move those goods, or heat and cool our homes and businesses. The small business owners who invest in their community, employ local people, and provide the framework of our economy. The innovators and improvers who take ideas and implement them into action and dare to believe that their discoveries can become the next thing we could not live without. All this fosters our human flourishing.
2020 exposed the weakness of experts who believed their knowledge was correct; however, they lacked understanding, interpreting facts without wisdom. They break things that are not broken hoping to fix them with their abundance of education, but they lack the exercise of education. They look at imperfections as a challenge to be fixed. They believe human flaws can be perfected, yet lack the understanding that man is not malleable to be heated up and bent into a mold to be replicated.
Humans have a rich history of trial and error. We try, tinker, and tack together ideas that are separate yet once combined create something new, often marvelous, and at once magical. Too often we don’t revel in our mistakes, we don’t take a risk because we fear the embarrassment of failure. We want perfection yet we don’t spend the time to perfect. The imperfect and the flawed shows a timeline of use that reminds me of the lines left by laughter and tears on a person’s face. Those lines that show a life well lived.
2020 gave our political class license to stop that living, to stop that production, to stop that sustenance of human connection because of the fear of dying. The power they derived from the meek, the unquestioning, the afraid, gave them added incentive to act against our interests. Like the seasons, the political year proved a harsh and bitter winter. The ill winds remain and the elements continue to lash and beat at us. As winter always turns into Spring and then into Summer we can prepare, plan, and plant our future, broken and torn apart as we may seem. There is always hope. There is will and human desire. There are dreams.
Find the flaws and imperfections to embrace. The promise going forward into the new year and the new decade remains. Celebrate each day as a new interval of time. Invest and improve in yourself, flaws and all. Defend freedom like a once broken piece of pottery, it is delicate. There are those who, in their rush to perfection break what took wisdom to build. There is solace in knowing that even a broken object, though not perfect, can be mended back with the golden embrace of wisdom. Our Kintsugi is the promise of that idea of America. It is alive in the hearts of her people and can be pieced back together