• Tara Palmer

Kintsugi: Beauty in the Broken Places

We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in. (Ernest Hemingway)

Many cultures seem to agree that there is a sacred energy or beauty that resides in our flaws or ‘broken’ places. Perhaps this suggests a universal human awareness that there is a beauty that emerges through our experience of hardships and personal challenges.

  • Native American tribes weave a flaw into their rugs to support the belief that it is through the flaw that the Great Spirit enters.

  • Kintsugi is an artistic manifestation of Wabi-Sabi philosophy that celebrates imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness. ( Wabi Sabi is intimately tied to Zen Buddhism.)

  • The Christian Bible suggests that God’s power is perfected in human weakness.

  • Persian rug weavers believe that mistakes allow them to make steady progress in developing their skills due to not slowing for the needless worries that tend to surround a pursuit of perfection. They support the paradox that practicing imperfection can allow you to come close to perfection.


What Happens when the ‘Spirit’ Enters?

Our greatest gifts, talents, or sources of inspiration appear to often take shape in relation to parts of our self that we may initially understand to be most ‘broken.’


Whether you became a musician who developed through channeling emotional pain into song; an artist who poured her aching soul onto a canvas; a financial guru who learned to speak the language of numbers, money, planning and investments after growing up in poverty; a person born with a physical disability who pressed against the odds to become a long distance runner; a teacher who overcame challenges of a learning disability and turned around to inspire other young people to do the same; an invested parent who grew up in the foster care system and developed the capacity to be the parent they wished they’d had…


There are countless ways that we find our journeys leading us through the fire of our personal challenges and insecurities to the other side where we have bright and shiny gifts we can use and share with others.


The journeys are hard. We often feel insecure, question our capacities, wonder if we really can or do have what it takes to create what our heart desires.


Valuing and Claiming Our Self

Many of us find ourselves hurting, lost and confused in the early stages of relating to our 'brokenness.' Perhaps we resonate with the opening lines to the song, ‘This is Me’ from the film, ‘The Greatest Showman.’


I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
'Cause we don't want your broken parts
I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one'll love you as you are

We may have encountered others who have sent rejecting or discouraging messages about our 'broken parts.' We may have been told that we'd never be enough because of our 'scar.'


We can lose weeks, months, years, hiding in the shadows- not wanting to be noticed- not knowing how to go about accepting or believing in ourselves.


First step

In order to move ahead in our lives without being bound by shame, we have to find ways to break away from these messages and discover our value, not in spite of, but inclusive of our 'broken' parts.


The Need for Support, Kindness, and Care

If we have internalized voices of rejection or shame related to aspects of who we are, we often need support from kind, caring others to begin seeing and understanding our self in a new way.


Consider the process of the Circus performers on 'The Greatest Showman'. Most of these individuals were on the outskirts of society hiding away. They only emerged from hiding upon the glimmer of an invitation, a flyer seeking 'Unique Humans.'


Each person had to face the choice... Do I want to ignore or respond to the invitation?

I imagine they each had to dig deep to find the courage to 'show up' for themselves and explore what was possible... Was there a place for them? A place where they could be valued and appreciated? A place where they could be seen and belong? A place where they could come to know themselves in a new way?


Finding a Place

In reaching out, the 'Unique Humans' found a place where they were seen in a new light, where the vary aspects of their being that had once led to being ostracized were becoming their pathway to purpose and connection.


Humility and Compassion

Each of the 'Unique Humans' that emerged from the shadows seemed to have the superpowers of humility, understanding, compassion, and eyes to see what the rest of the world had missed. Rather than judging what was different in one another and pushing it away, they were able to respond with appreciation and encouragement, embracing not just the unique trait but the whole person to whom it belonged.


We all depend on feedback from others. We need to know that the good things that we may secretly see in our self and the private dreams we wish to reach out for are not crazy, wishful thinking, but a reflection of authentic traits and potentials that exist at the core of our being. When we can share these 'secrets' with others, and receive understanding responses that reflect a 'good enough' match to our own internal self-understanding, we frequently begin to trust ourselves in new ways.


Ready to Dream & Inspire

Once we have found our own way into understanding the relationship of our broken parts to our whole and a warm place among caring others who also understand their own 'brokeness', it seems we are positioned to further develop and risk sharing our 'Unique Human' abilities. Our brokenness, though not always, often seems to be the place that eventually leads us to enter a 'field' of dreams. Our dreams, then, frequently align with pathways that lead others to healing.

Perhaps, our 'brokenness' is the place of interconnection, interdependence, and a pathway to greater wholeness, not just individually, but in relationships, communities, and even globally?


We'll talk more about how we might begin to enter a 'field' of dreams in our next post.

(Kintsugi, Part 2: Entering the 'Field' of Dreams).


I hope 'This is Me' might leave you feeling inspired to take some steps in claiming your broken parts!


This Is Me The Greatest Showman Ensemble


I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
'Cause we don't want your broken parts
I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one'll love you as you are
But I won't let them break me down to dust
I know that there's a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh
Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away 'cause today, I won't let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that's what we've become (yeah, that's what we've become)
I won't let them break me down to dust
I know that there's a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh
This is me
And I know that I deserve your love
(Oh-oh-oh-oh) 'cause there's nothing I'm not worthy of
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh)
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is proof
This is who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come (look out 'cause here I come)
And I'm marching on to the beat I
Drum (marching on, marching, marching on)
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I'm gonna send a flood
Gonna drown them out
Oh
This is me.
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Benj Pasek / Justin Paul
This Is Me lyrics © Pick In A Pinch Music, Breathelike Music, Tcf Music Publishing Inc

© Tara Palmer

TaraLPalmer at yahoo.com