This is from my book – Rowing through Cancer. Just recently a friend posted a picture of a broken ceramic bowl patched with gold. It had a beautiful saying attached. It reminded me of my prologue and I commented and told her it was called “Kinsugi” and would share it on my blog.
I read an article about an ancient Japanese art form called Kinsugi. Artisans take broken pottery objects of treasure and repair them with gold and lacquer to create something more beautiful than the original. Rather than disguising the breakage, Kinsugi restores the broken item incorporating the damage and making it more beautiful than the original.
It made me think about my 8” long and crooked scar from two surgeries. I was broken and put together again by the skilled hands of several surgeons. I was given another chance at life. I am a human Kintsugi. I have a seam of gold.
My imperfection was a huge sadness for me for many years. I would look at myself in the mirror and see a brutal reminder of my initial lifesaving surgery, the yearlong battle against cancer, and the debulking surgery that left me scarred in many ways. My once cute belly button was now distorted and angled sideways. I was put back together but not in the original form.
It wasn’t until I read about Kintsugi that I started to think about myself as a work of art. A beautiful stitched together human with a war battle worth being proud of. My mark is a war wound with a history and story. The belief is that the imperfection makes you more valuable and beautiful. As a philosophy, Kintsugi has similar qualities to the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi, which stands for embracing of the flawed or imperfect.
Japanese aesthetics value marks of wear. The art of Kintsugi highlights the cracks and repairs as simply an event in the life of the object rather than allowing its service to end at the time of its damage or breakage.
When something bad happens, like cancer, we need to take the experience from a negative to a positive. Kintsugi is not just a way of repairing the broken but it is a philosophy and a way of life I am now embracing. This is the meaning of resilience.