KINTSUGI: CELEBRATING THE STORY BEHIND THE BROKENNESS

By: Benjamin Reisterer, MA, LLPC

Most things that we use today are disposable. We purchase products specifically designed to be single use and when “long term” items break (or begin to show wear and tear) we toss them and buy new ones. So it’s no surprise when we hear people refer to our society as one with a “throwaway culture”. It makes sense, as technology has progressed convenience has increased which allows us more time to focus on things we choose, so there is good to this. However, there is a danger of internalizing this mentality.

Our bodies, our minds, and our souls are foundational to who we are. We can’t replace them when they age, show wear and tear, or are broken in some fashion. So we work to hide or minimize our perceived flaws. Entire industries and movements have developed that try to keep our bodies young, strong, or appearing to be without blemish. There is no shortage of spiritual gurus peddling the secret to happiness and a cursory glance at the comments section of just about any online article will reveal people constantly trying to show (anonymously – so who are they showing?) that their minds are sharper or superior to the other “trolls” on the thread. We can’t stand to be broken or worn down and we do our best to conceal our blemishes and our brokenness from the world.

Kintsugi is an ancient Japanese technique for fixing broken pottery. The technique is instantly recognizable as it uses resin mixed with gold, silver, or platinum powder to restore the object to wholeness. Kintsugi, which translates to golden joinery, restores the usefulness and functionality of the object while also celebrating the story behind its brokenness. The uniqueness of each piece is amplified by the gold resin and the result is a stunningly beautiful work of art that conveys a powerful metaphor.

For me, counseling very closely resembles Kintsugi. As we spend time sitting with and examining the broken pieces of our lives we gain understanding, which allows us to produce the tools and the eye catching resin needed to restore ourselves to wholeness. We move away from hiding, shame, and guilt and towards authenticity, all while celebrating and acknowledging the brokenness that makes our stories unique. As we work towards wholeness in this way, we become more authentic, beautiful, and unique than before.

If you feel you spend more time hiding your brokenness than living your unique story and are ready to take steps towards healing, change, and purpose, please reach out.