A new fellow valve replacement surgery friend (“Valver” as we say) emailed me to tell his similar story to me. One thing he said stuck out to me, and reminded me of something that I have thought about quite a bit, but never wrote about here. He wrote,
“I think of myself as an analogy…I feel like a broken plate that’s been glued back together…in one piece, but it won’t take much to break me again.”
This describes Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi), the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. What my new friend doesn’t realize, is that although he feels fragile now (he is still only 5 months post op), when the lacquer dries, he will feel more beautiful, and stronger than before. I can speak to this from experience. The speed and volume of personal and emotional growth that I have experienced since my heart surgeries has been incredible. I am a better, kinder, more honest person now, because this experience has unlocked something that was laying dormant inside me.
Please watch this very informative and poetic explanation of what Kintsugi is. When I watch this video, it brings me to tears because for someone who has been through a traumatic experience such as open heart surgery, Kintsugi is more than an analogy.
Some quotes from the video:
The art of Kintsugi became famous for turning broken objects into pieces more beautiful than the original product.
The fractures on a ceramic bowl don’t represent the end of that object’s life, but rather an essential moment in its history. The flaws in its shape aren’t hidden from inspection, but emblazoned with golden significance.
The pristine is less beautiful than the broken.