Broken Parts

Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

— Psalm 90:12-14, 17

I’ve heard people talk about the value of one’s life story. When I think about my story it clearly has its good parts, the beautiful parts, just as it also has its dark and stormy parts. I can’t change the past and the way my story has played out, but I found that I needed the courage to see it as it is because it has everything to do with me.

Like the prayer for serenity, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” I cling to the idea of building my future, not despite my past or by ignoring the stormy parts, but building with the broken pieces of who I am.

The concept of “kintsugi” is a tradition that consists of repairing broken ceramic vessels—the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold, a metaphor for embracing your flaws and imperfections—understanding that you won’t realize your full potential until you go through the tough times.

Kintsugi teaches the value of conserving the fragments of our vessel, not discarding it because it is broken, but to the contrary carefully, conscientiously, and with respect uniting and mending the fragments by filling the cracks with gold without intending to hide or disguise the damage.

As a philosophy, kintsugi, like the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi—embracing the flawed or imperfect—highlights the broken lines as beautiful and strong. The “veins” are there as reminders that the “breaks” are lessons rich in themselves.

I chose to make a new vessel of my life, certainly richer. It will be covered by many golden lines, the reconciliation of past failures or mistakes that caused the break. My life today is richer because it has been broken. With God all things are possible.

— Unknown

The sages do not consider that making no mistakes is a blessing. They believe, rather, that the great virtue of man lies in his ability to correct his mistakes and continually make a new man of himself.

— Wang Yang-Ming

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