kintsukuroi:

Hemingway said “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” 

From chapter 34 in A Farewell to Arms.


kintsukuroi:  (n.) (v.phr.) “to repair with gold”

the art of repairing pottery with gold resin and understanding that the piece is more beautiful and valuable for having been broken 

An obsession I have is called kintsukuroi. This is art, it is mastery, it is something called repair.  I look at pieces of pottery that have been healed by this method: a gold and resin that fills the cracks in something once beautiful that was broken. I think they are the most remarkable pottery I have ever seen.  To me this has become a part of my religion.  I seek images on the internet, I ask everyone I know if they have any knowledge of a Japanese master who would be willing to teach me how to do this kintsukuroi.

I want to learn, I feel I need to know, how does one live this life, and live it well, when what we love breaks, when they die?


The other day I was sitting at my computer and a lovely goldfinche flew into the window next to me.  I raced outside and found it beak-down in the dirt.  Its eyes were staring and it was completely unable to hold itself when I picked it up.  From lolling to its side in my palms I sat it on a low bush and hoped it would recover from such a rude experience.  We all know the experience of being certain there is an opening, when in fact, it is a solid obstruction.

Not being able to help myself, I went out a bit later to check on it.  Once again, it was beak down in the dirt, but I could feel the little heart and will of life pumping in my hands as I brought it up to my face and breathed on it the warmest air as I could conjure.  For a good 5 minutes I breathed into my palms willing this tiny life to live, willing wings to work, willing what is broken to fly again.

I can’t be so bold to claim that I know what this word spirit means, and I don’t know where my prayers go, but I can tell you that I was on my knees in the mossy dirt on a 42 degree afternoon breathing on a tiny, beautiful thing with all the soul I have.

After these eternal minutes it hadn’t moved at all, it felt heavy and damp in my palms.  I was starting to shiver and feel hopeless, so I opened my cupped hands to look one last time at this golden creature.  That is when it rose up and flew away toward the clouded sun.

In that moment, something in my chest fluttered with it, something young and resilient was remembered, something gold filled in one more crack in my heart.