Our Authentic Self – Kintsugi Style


This is a continuation of messaging excerpts (in an ongoing series) from the Transformative Studies Program offered by The Intelligent Optimist.

A.C. While I love the circular/cyclical/spiral nature of learning and teaching, enlightened and enlightening… I sometimes forget the essence of that nature and give in to fears (of failure, success, exposure, lack of support or love, etc.)… what I’m coming to now is that a firm knowledge basis and eagerness/continued curiosity provide confidence that allows a letting go and a way to not know that can feel safe.

I know this, have felt it, and still forget it sometimes… but then so many are in the same place and these little cracks, blemishes, insecurities allow for mistakes that are some of the most needed, healing, and beautiful acts of reconstruction. Without the construct/deconstruct/reconstruct process, the layers are thin… and there is much character to be found in the act of repair.

Joe: A., it sounds like your awareness level is unfolding for continued confidence expansion. Will you please expand on your 2nd paragraph?

A.C. Sure, Joe.

And perhaps it is better said from my preferred perspective on influence… one that involves LESS of the workplace and social constructs and power associated with the term, and MORE of the everyday truth in relationship.

When I go out and walk the pup (or, rather, dance with her and the beauty of our surroundings), I am in a place where influence is found in the everyday relationship; the kids and their early morning selves, snuggles and sneezes and whining and laughter, my favorite sow that suddenly needs postpartum attention, my partner’s request that I bring his forgotten wallet, the dog and her personality, clear as day, coming through at every turn on our way… the senses– sounds of the birds and the river rushing by, the mosquito bites, the feeling of the humid air in my lungs, the taste of the perfectly ripe, and then not so ripe blackberries along the roadside, and the wine berries, even better! (Read: mindfulness.)

Those interactions influence me, and how I go about my day, hugely. THEN, that influence, powerful and beautiful, clashing with the constructs: I’m late for work, my heart is elsewhere, my creative desires are not being fulfilled when I’m pulled this way and that way, I am getting stressed! Did I do what I was supposed to at work? What have I forgotten? I don’t have time! etc.

So I guess what I am saying in that paragraph is that the clash is influential too? The beauty and clashing and cracking and polarity/duality are influential and the feelings evoked in the course of the day are what brings opportunity… The glory of the walk interrupted by the helplessness in my attempt to repair my sow’s prolapsed uterus… Thinking I might finally get to work, then being asked to grab cabbage and yogurt and a wallet and whatnot that was forgotten. Dealing with the pulling in multiple directions. Appreciating that I am able to do those things while recognizing that it gums me up, and knowing that so many others are right there with me…

It’s like the daily version of life/death/reincarnation… the building up of the day, the breaking apart of my expectations, the rebuilding with old pieces and new ideas, the kintsugi of everyday life– damages perceived as beauty.

And so, ultimately, those who most influence me are those who bring me to this internal break point, those who speak to it from their experience, shed new light in these cracks, reflect something I feel and know within, and shine up my gold… So, too, I would imagine that this is how I would be most influential to others?

This bowl is an Kintsugi example

This bowl is an Kintsugi example

Readers, below is a brief overview of Kintsugi:

The Japanese, long respected for their wisdom, have a long tradition of repairing pots with gold; it’s called “kintsugi” or “kintsukuroi”. Curtis Benzele tells it this way: “The story of ‘Kintsugi’ may have begun in the late 15th Century, when the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China to be fixed. It returned held together with ugly metal staples, launching Japanese craftsmen on a quest for a new form of repair that could make a broken piece look as good as new or better. Japanese collectors developed such a taste for kintsugi that some were accused of deliberately breaking prized ceramics, just to have them mended in gold.”

“The term ‘kintsugi’ means ‘golden joinery’ in Japanese and refers to the art of fixing broken ceramics with a lacquer resin made to look like solid gold. Chances are a vessel fixed by ‘kintsugi’ will look more gorgeous and more precious than before it was fractured.”

When we in the West break a bowl, how many of us would even think of having it repaired? If we should, it’d be only with the explicit question: Can the damage be completely concealed? To possibly think it more beautiful for the life it shows is not even in the Western way of thinking.

Discarding what’s broken has become so ingrained in our society; we’re called “The Disposable Society”. Now that it’s happened, it’s probably not surprising, but looking back it was likely an unintended and even unforeseeable side effect of our standardized behavior – we’ve absorbed this belief so deeply, we even include ourselves. We cover up scars and even inject poisons (Botox) to prevent our skin from showing our age (showing that we have lived, survived to tell our tales and grown wiser).

Let’s appreciate our self and our experiences, including the marks, scars and lines they’ve left us. Like the kintsugi pottery above, covering up the lines and scars did not deliver the desired result. Recognizing that we’re more beautiful in having them – did!

Together, let’s transcend focusing on our “image” and instead focus on our authentic self, including our beauty from experiencing and challenging life. Through thorough self-acceptance (devoid of self-rejection/self-condemnation), we can experience true Peace, Joy, Happiness and Love!!

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