The Japanese artform, based on a belief that a repaired pot can be stronger, taught me about tragedy and the ability to overcome it
My brother died at the age of 10, when I was eight. When I was nine, I shushed my best friend for mentioning him. At 11, I forced myself to stop turning my head away when we drove past a cemetery. And at 16 I spoke his name aloud for the first time, although it was many more years before I could actually talk about him.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places,” wrote Ernest Hemingway. Decades after my brother died I found a way to understand this, and that way was through the metaphor of kintsugi (kin=gold + tsugi=joining), the Japanese repair technique that puts a broken pot back together but reveals the breaks and scars by highlighting the seams with pure gold. A shattered pot becomes a new entity, one that says out loud: I was broken, but now, even though I am not perfect, I am more beautiful and stronger than ever.
The repair technique highlights the breaks and scars using gold
Disability and climate groups use kintsugi to challenge thinking