Kintsugi, the beauty of a broken bowl

I am fond of hand made pottery and have collected some beautiful pieces over the years. From different places in the world; Egyptian potters, places in Yemen, French markets, a small store in Seoul, celadon bowls from friend and potter in Schellingwoude (near by my house). I simply enjoy eating and drinking from these colorful bowls and it brings back memories of beautiful places I have been. Though they break sometimes. I remember one morning in Manila. My friend’s cat was staying in our house for some time. She managed to jump in the middle of a tray with my breakfast on it and the whole thing was flying in the air and the pottery fell on the floor into many pieces. I was so upset since I was drinking my morning coffee from that same bowl every day, a bowl a friend gave me before I left to Asia. I can tell I can be fussy with it, my children wonder sometimes of they can use a certain bowl since they are not sure how precious it is for me. I am learning not to attach to it too much anymore. Things are there to use and it can break when you use them. Now I found a way to repair them in a even more beautiful way then I did before. I discovered the DIY Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold. The art of an an imperfect repair.

Today I am repairing a small chinese bowl that I inherited from my grandmum.

I love the way the Japanese look at this art of repair. To see it as a metaphor on how we can look at our own scars and broken places in our lives. Things get broken, it simply is part of life. It starts very young when we adapt to expectations from the world around us. Building a defense mechanisms to protect ourselves from things that can hit us too deeply. I don’t remember being aware of all this at all. It was just the way I was dealing with the world around me. And slowly slowly the extra layer became part of me. Untill i discovered it didn’t work well anymore. It gave me stomach pain. When that opened up I became aware that I did not want to hide behind my fears and limitations any longer. But what a process. Not as smooth and easy as I thought:) It is hard work to overcome but how beautiful it is….

Looking at scars and broken pieces, I notice I did tend to focus on the challenges of how to overcome pain, whatever pain it is. I would focus on how it stands in my way to go further. By doing this I was experiencing the limitations of myself. I can see how I keep myself small and vulnerable this way. Also how it keeps me locked in a mode of struglle and fighting. A broken bowl that does not believe it can be whole again. It let to panick and extra tension in an already sensitive nervous system.

Slowly slowly I am seeing that there is so much to learn by fully embracing that what is most difficult. Fear, pain, grief, vulnerability, anger. Through surrendering and softnening. This does not mean you have to be taken and drown into it completely. It is a learning process, a gentle process of giving it space, to allow emotions to come up, to let tears come, to let go. To look at it and work through the scars and building trust in overcoming. Like the broken bowl, by adding gold, attention, patience. To find gold in the scars there really is a way to heal, to feel more whole after all. It is what soul work for me is all about. To learn how to trust the answers that come from deep down. It is funny to see how in repairing the bowl this afternoon, it also needs patience and experience, trial and error. This bowl did not become amazingly beautiful. But it is fine enough. By time and experience, trying it many times, they will become more beautiful.

The traumatic car accident I experienced a year ago has been the ultimate invitation to dive into this process. To overcome the ultimate pain and vulnerability. To find strength and trust. It has been a very tough year to deal with what happened. I have talked about it and sometimes not at all. I find it difficult what I can say and what not. There are so many things in the way. And in the same time, it is finding its way. It is asking me to come out of the dark night and find a place in the light. It takes phases but now I feel I should take some time to write it down. I expect to do that in the New Year.

Listening to the breathtakingly beautiful music of L’Arpeggiata. Cantata Sopra il Passacaglio. Diatonica. Music that let me feel the so many layers in life, let me feel that life is so much more than what we perceive. It also brings me to the sense of who we are and who we are becoming. Music tells me what is often difficult to find in words. Enjoying some alone time and eating from my special golden lined bowl. Here a simple but nutritious vegetable curry with lots of home grown sprouts. The beauty of a broken bowl, the healing powers of life force food and magical music:)