While checking in on Twitter this morning, I saw this post from Brain Pickings:
“Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.” Beautiful read http://t.co/BbuEpeCOta
— Maria Popova (@brainpicker) November 3, 2014
I encourage you to read the whole thing. It’s a couple of choice excerpts from a book by Parker Palmer that I immediately added to my wishlist.
This is something I’ve been pondering for a while now. In the past, I’ve used the word “broken” to describe myself and others, as a way to explaining that we’re not perfect. It has often been used as a shorthand for longing for a return to my previously unbroken state, as though that is the ideal.
I don’t know anymore how much I hold to that belief. It as though broken is the unnatural state, and that we are all trying to project or protect wholeness — that initial unharmed state we value so highly.
But is that what living is for? Life, in all its horror and all its beauty, is supposed to leave its marks on us. We are not ceramic bowls or wooden ships, nor any other metaphor poets can dream up. We are human, with human frailty and human love and human pain. Our purpose is to live through each of our experiences with the knowledge that it all matters, and it all changes us.
This is not a concept that I invented. Lately, I have been seeing a post going around on various social media about the Japanese art of Kintsugi similar to this one.
While I appreciate the sentiment, I am hesitant to apply this concept to all the hurts and brokenness I see around me. I caution those who would romanticize pain or harm, and acknowledge that many have been irrevocably harmed in their lives, and that their harm does not always make them more beautiful. Above all, I would never assume that someone else’s pain made them more beautiful at the expense of their well-being.
Which is why, I guess, the quote above resonates with me. While we do not have to accept our damage as beautiful, we can accept that is has changed us, and learn to live with these changes. And continue to love ourselves knowing that we will continue to be changed by our experiences. And know that this is precisely the purpose of living.