Inspired by Theo’s recent blog – http://www.wildyoga.co.uk/sanctuaries/, and by life, I’ve been thinking about being broken and imperfect. There’s a Japanese tradition of fixing broken pottery by putting gold in the cracks, emphasising and making lovely the breakage. That which is perfect, smooth and whole does not allow anything much in or out. Useful in a teacup, perhaps less so in a person.
There’s considerable comfort to be had in the idea of flaws as spiritual blessings that let the light in and make room for the gold. I‘m full of cracks and holes, it is interesting to see how much changes when I can imagine that as a virtue, not a failing.
What happens when you choose a path through life that means getting broken? Innately heartbreaking work, learning to love the fleeting and ephemeral, giving more than is a good idea, caring more than is safe…? I look back at my life choices, and see that I have very seldom chosen to do anything protective. I’ve been careless of my boundaries, I have not guarded against heartbreak and I have been broken open by grief more times than I can count.
Mostly my experience of that is not that I am turning into some kind of shining, saint-like entity. Mostly what it feels like is pain, and confusion. And yet I keep showing up to these, even when walking away would be really easy. I’ve done so my whole life, driven by passion, belief, hope, the need to try and make things better, the urge to give.
I get myself torn apart with predictable frequency. This is the point of the process I’m thinking hard about today. What would happen if I simply stopped calling that ‘failure’? How would life change if I viewed my inevitable breaking as a breaking open, not a fall from grace or a consequence of being naive, or too much, again? Perhaps I could be more graceful about cracking and falling apart. Perhaps that whole experience would feel very different.
The Japanese traditionally put gold in the pottery cracks. This is a choice. It is a way of seeing and understanding the holes as opportunities, not absences. The only way to get gold into those cracks is to see the cracks, and imagine there could be gold in them. It may simply be a case of deciding to be a different sort of teacup, the sort whose holes let light in to some good effect, the sort where the cracks are full of something good, or could be. Not a perfect teacup, but a perfectly flawed one.