Broken pottery and other inconveniences

Recently, I’ve reverted back to life as it was during the months of quarantine, a time when ideas for new blog topics were as scarce as cat food and toilet paper. Quarantine returned last week after my husband and I tested positive for Covid. Even if I had a topic, I had no time to write, because I’ve spent two weeks canceling, rescheduling and then re-cancelling and re-rescheduling dates with friends.

As I said, I had no blog ideas, but that was before I broke the cat’s food dish. I might have written about this topic before, but if I don’t remember no one else will. Especially if they’ve had Covid, which is associated with brain fog, though my experience says brain fog can come and go without your ever being sick. I find it a regular companion in daily life.

The topic is kintsugi, “the Japanese art of golden repair.” I’ve been obsessed with this for many years. I first heard about it at a church conference from a psychiatrist who was also a Buddhist minister. She talked about kintsugi as a way to repair broken pottery with real gold powder, which makes the finished pieces even more valuable. She then spoke of people who felt broken as a result of negative life experiences. “Accepting your cracks means being accepting and loving toward yourself. You must forgive yourself first, before you are capable of forgiving another.”

Another expert says, “Kintsugi reminds us that something can break and yet still be beautiful, and that, once repaired, it is stronger at the broken places. This is an incredible metaphor for healing and recovery from adversity.”

I was so taken with these interpretations that after the conference, I urged future program planners to include a kintsugi activity. The question always arose, “Do we ask people to go home and break something and bring it here to repair?” Admittedly, I wasn’t too thrilled about buying something to which I had no attachment, purely for the purpose of breaking and fixing it, and I didn’t intend to break something I loved. 

Last week, when I accidentally dropped and broke the cat’s dish, my obsession with kintsugi returned. The broken dish provided a “golden opportunity” to try kintsugi. The cat had a spare dish and wasn’t going to fret over the loss as long as the food continued to come. A web search revealed interesting surprises. I could purchase pre-broken and repaired pieces of pottery. No need to damage a bowl or plate myself. But the purchased repairs would have no personal meaning. Then, for the DIYers, there were the kintsugi repair kits, ranging in price from $18 to $129.  I worried that after spending the money I’d find my repair job lacking.

I thought about buying the cheapest kit and practicing on the cat bowl to which neither he nor I are attached. That way, in the future, when something I liked broke, I would be ready. I’d already have experience repairing broken pottery. Or I could throw away the cat bowl, wait until something I loved broke, and get my husband – who’s very skilled at repairing broken china– to fix it. Why had kintsugi seemed so important for these many years?

During February, I had a stress fracture on my foot and wasn’t supposed to walk for a month. Then I caught a cold, the first since 2019. And then along came Covid. Somehow self-repair has become more important, and my former obsession with kintsugi has just vanished.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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7 Responses to Broken pottery and other inconveniences

  1. Evelyn Cogswell says:

    Totally enjoyable story. I hope you are feeling better now

  2. Marilyn Pedersen says:

    I felt “repaired” after our delightful lunch today! Knowing your husband’s skill set, I recommend handing over the golden glue to him for restoring the cat’s food bowl. 🤣

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

  3. Joe Gotchy says:

    I love this post. Self repair and reflection can be satisfying and seemingly essential elements of a life well lived. As for binding the broken pieces of cat’s food bowl together with a golden glue, I think the act reminds us that happiness comes from serving sentient beings who depend on our compassion and opposable thumbs. 😉🙏🏻🙃

  4. Gayle Matson says:

    Love this. I’m not familiar with kintsugi but am slightly obsessed with “wabi sabi,” the aesthetic that refers to finding beauty in that which is repaired or impermanent or imperfect. Love those cracks, for as Leonard Cohen says, “that’s how the light gets in.” May your health be restored to wholeness soon, and meanwhile, may the light come streaming through whatever cracks remain.

  5. Betina says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that covid caught up to you. Sounds like you are already on the mend. If not, let me know what I can drop off for you!

  6. Darlene Bishop says:

    As usual—great blog. You’re always teaching us. Yes, repair yourself first!!

  7. Nancy Larson says:

    Another great blog! I always enjoy your reflection on a specific topic. No question we are in the age of repair! Hope you are feeling better.

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