super glue and kintsukuroi

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places.”  ~ Ernest Hemingway

“Make peace with your broken pieces” I read this sentence the other day and it made me think of a word I learned a couple of years ago, kintsugi, a Japanese word which means ‘the art of embracing the damage.’  I read that in Japan, this is a method of repairing broken objects that uses lacquer mixed with metals so that the repair is visible and becomes a recognition of the damage, the history that the object has had, and not trying to mask the repair or crack as if it is flawless…here we use Super Glue, we try so hard to get the right number of dots of glue on the broken edge, and then the right number of dots on the edge of the broken off piece and then we piece it together, trying to not get our fingers stuck together with hands as still as a surgeon’s and we clamp it, or tape it, or balance the object with a dictionary on it in such a way that the crack we hope will become invisible, like ‘nobody will know it has been broken but me.’  I like the idea of this Japanese technique and the philosophy behind it.  It seems more honest.

As we leave 2015 behind tonight and move into 2016 I think it’s only smart to reflect upon our year and think about making peace with our broken pieces…we can use the Americanized technique of Super Glue and Scotch tape and try to pretend that nothing’s been broken, or we can use the Japanese technique of recognizing that something has indeed been broken, it was surely damaged, and it has now been repaired, and it’s okay, beautiful even, to embrace the imperfect…I think this is something of a problem we are mired in, in this modern United States, it’s not very united and it’s hardly perfect, but so many people want to pretend that everything’s fine…we hide behind big houses and straight fences and perfectly manicured lawns with the 2.5 children who are honor roll students who play violin and soccer and our dog that neither sheds nor drools and we have a new car every three years and we eat healthy meals as a family and we go on vacation every Easter and we love our mother in law and we get along with our neighbors and-and-and…and it’s so unattainable…so impossible to achieve…this modern America is all super-glued and scotch taped and pretend…and we let it be that way…

I’m neither feeling cynical nor suspicious of this American life, I am after all part of it, and I don’t begrudge those friends or family or neighbors who are ‘living the dream,’  I simply think a lot of the dream is fake…I am guilty too.  There are a number of things in my life that are so far from perfect I no longer have a map to navigate the terrain I find myself lost in…I go to sleep almost every single night with some sort of confusion or worry or regret…and you know what that gets me?  A bad night’s sleep…so it’s so much easier to pretend that all is well…and I think that’s how it is for most of us.  For those of you who are perfect, and have perfect marriages, big fat mutual funds, disposable income, and no debt, I applaud you…you made far better choices in life than I clearly did, but for the others who like me are far from where they want to be, or far from where they thought they would be “by now,” join me if you will, in making peace with your broken pieces.  Let 2016 be a year to heal.  Fill the damage with gold and silver and platinum.  Let the cracks shine and glimmer and draw your eye right to them, embrace the wound and celebrate the repair.  I’ve grown in this year to believe it’s okay that I’m full of flaws, I just want to be more authentic.  I intend to live more fully in the light and honesty of that statement in this new year.

So we move forward together, into 2016.  We can keep dwelling on the last year, and the one before that, or our pasts or our childhoods or our whatevers, or we can close the doors, turn the pages, step off…whatever term you wish to use that engages your wonder with what’s new for you, that gets you off into a new way of thinking, of being, or living.  There is no right or wrong way to live or to be, we all choose how to act & how to interact, the only “rules” are the ones we choose to live by or recognize as valid.  Some of us can just keep on pretending that nothing is broken, some of us can super glue the cracks and hope they hold, and some of us can come forward with the art of kintsukuroi, embellish the damage and sing out “I’ve been cracked, but I’m not broken” and if that isn’t making peace with your broken pieces, I don’t know what is…

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”  ~ Rumi

 

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Actually love…

I’ve seen the movie Love Actually too many times to count.  While it is not my favorite holiday film, it’s one of my favorites and I generally watch it the first day that I begin decorating after Thanksgiving and usually once while wrapping gifts, and then almost always while I start the undecorating, which I am doing right now…well, now, as in I stopped undecorating to come upstairs and write.  I just stopped the movie after the office Christmas party scene where Karen, so brilliantly played by the glorious Emma Thompson, says to Harry, “you know she is darling, be careful there” regarding the attractiveness of the  stunningly sexy and provocative assistant named Mia…and I got a little teary eyed, wrapping up the Santas in tissue paper and bubble and storing and stacking them with care in a giant red Rubbermaid tote, because I know what is coming up shortly…and it is heartbreakingly tender, this part that crushes me so, every year…when Karen opens up her gift, a cd, Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now…when she was expecting a gold necklace which she spied in her husband’s pocket after shopping…and she goes to their room and she cries and it breaks my heart every time I watch the movie, even though I know it’s coming, and I know what happens, because nobody wants to feel that way, ever, and if ever they have been broken-hearted or crushed or deceived, they don’t want to feel it again.  I suppose my tears are in solidarity every holiday, with good women treated badly and who deserved so much better…even when they are fictional characters…

I think when you actually love someone, care for that person deeply and wholly, and in friendship and with compassion, it is impossible to break that person’s heart.  You can make them angry, and sometimes you can utter things that you wish you could take back, and you can even make them sad, but if you actually love that person you could not do the thing that would be soul crushing and heart breaking.  What I’ve  learned most from Love Actually is that many of the people who say the words “I love you” really don’t know love at all.  If you really love a person the way you wish to be loved, then you could not ever do to that person a thing, or multiple things, that would devastate that person.  It’s actually that simple.  All of that *do unto others* business means that you have to walk the walk if you want to talk the talk.  You have to act in love if you wish to say the words.

I know that there are some people who do not like the holidays because of bad memories or maybe continually dashed expectations and so they just have a sort of “Bah” attitude towards these two weeks.  I am not one of those people.  I admit that I had a beautiful childhood and now have a beautiful adulthood and feel really blessed and lucky most days of the year.  I have a lot of love in my life and I am glad for it.  Even when I am having an off day, or feeling low or regrets or any kind of negative thought, I remind myself that I have one thing that many people don’t and that is love.  I am loved deeply by quite a number of people and I deeply love quite a number of people. It’s not anything I ever asked for, it’s just what I got, and it makes me happy. I have many favorite parts of this movie, and I have the same four parts that make me teary and sometimes cry, every single viewing, but more than anything I like so much that it reminds us, I mean, it tells us, several times, that love is actually all around, and we believe it a little bit more every time we see it.  If your life feels like it is missing love, I hope in this new year, you find it.  If you think that you were not as loving this past year as you could have been, I hope you love a little bit harder this new year.  There are lots of things we buy and give, but love really is the truest ‘gift,’ not just the words, not saying words but really doing it, loving.  As this year comes to an end, and I put away this dvd until next November, I want to wish all of you a happy new year, filled with friendship and compassion and love actually…