I’ve spent the last two years, during the worst year (and counting) ever for most people, moving multiple times, immigrating to a foreign country, enduring housing insecurity in that foreign country and an excruciating process of finding a permanent home base. I’m now starting renovations I never expected to have to go through again on the only home I could afford. So I’ve missed deadlines (like for this blog) and completely forgotten about or missed appointments, which will likely not be the last, among many other messes that have occurred. While I have recognized my privilege in the process of being called an ‘ex-pat’ vs. an immigrant or a refugee, it was still daunting and overwhelming and I was thankful everyday for the resources I was able to muster, even when I was white-knuckling it. However, my health has suffered and I’ve seen many of my ‘cracks’ re-appear.
Recently I was reminded about the Japanese art form called ‘Kuntsugi’ or the process of taking broken things and repairing them into something considered more valuable using gold, silver or platinum dust to fill in the ‘cracks.’
I started contemplating this idea of something being broken, and although many have espoused the idea of using Kuntsugi as a metaphor for life and recovery from trauma, I have to question the idea of ‘brokenness’ altogether. I say that brokenness is an illusion-a mistaken idea that we are supposed to go through life without cracks.
Perhaps the cracks are part of the natural evolution of a creation, or a being. While ‘repairing’ the cracks with gold, silver or platinum turns it into something more unique, beautiful and resilient, maybe that is really the true nature of the creation anyway. It was meant to have cracks so it could become these things, and it’s considered more valuable by being re-formed in this way. It’s not a repair, it’s a re-formation and a renewal. A way of opening up to something more, something better.
I wonder if we can hold onto this idea that no one is ‘broken’. What would change for you if you felt that things didn’t happen ‘to’ you but ‘for’ you? I have toyed with this idea lately and while I don’t believe we necessarily ‘need’ trauma to grow, we do grow from it given the right circumstances. That is the key. If everyone around you is convincing you, and you are doing it too, that you are broken and there is permanent damage, that’s a problem. If you know how, or get help, to re-form into something better, more beautiful, unique and valuable, it is worth embracing the ‘never being the same’ as a good thing. The key is the right people around you and the right kinds of help.
Research has demonstrated that the support around someone immediately following an adverse event can mitigate the negative effects of the event or events. Our mental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual supports are critical. They are the critical gold, silver and platinum dust in our lives.
Our spiritual lives and beliefs about the ‘who am I’, ‘what am I here for’ and ‘what is the meaning of my life’ and knowing the answers are so important as the glue that helps us re-form.
How could your life be different if you were able to breathe and lean into the re-formation process when something seems to ‘crack’ in your life? What would change if you realized this event was not a break but just an opportunity to re-form?
I’m not saying the cracking and re-formation process isn’t painful. Life is messy and yes, painful. But suffering is a choice, as they say. Seeing yourself as cracked is a suffering choice. Seeing events as happening ‘to’ you instead of ‘for’ you causes more suffering.
Take just one example of something painful that has happened to you in life. If you look back on what has happened since, where you are now because of it, did you use it to grow and re-form into something better? Most times, we do that. Humans are pretty good at creating meaning from adversity. Sometimes we get stuck in the cracks and we need help out. That’s part of the process too.
I saw this quote and it helped me through a tough moment (or 10) and while the author wasn’t noted where I saw the quote, I hope I can find out who wrote it and thank them:
“Life is like a book. Some chapters are happy, some sad and some are life-changing. But if I do not turn the page, I will never know what the next chapter holds.”
All beings need some help with the process of re-formation. No creation does its own Kuntsugi alone. If you need help, please seek out assistance from a therapist, coach, religious leader, friends or family. We are all out here, just waiting to see what something even more beautiful you will become.
One way out of the mind-set about cracks is to go out and play. Connecting with fun, joy and something larger than yourself, especially in nature and with other people, will propel you into your re-formation.
If you need some help with these questions and challenges I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for counseling or coaching and your F.U.N.!