Through the Fire
The original version of this post was published in December of 2014. I was in the mood the other day to revisit it. You could see that version here.
I had a conversation last year with a friend, first commenting on a photo of herself she posted on FaceBook how beautiful she looked. She’d had a rough past year and said she felt as if she had been through the fires of hell and now ” I feel like a well fired piece of pottery, beautiful, functional and timeless!” So profound and I realized I feel the same way ( though without the last year being hellish). Recently, I had cause to revisit this conversation. While not even close to hell, I have struggled lately. I’ve gained some weight. I have spent time isolating myself. I just haven’t been happy. And, in spite of that, because of that?, I feel stronger, more connected to myself. I wish I could say that I feel as if I’m really doing the work I need to do on myself. I am doing bits and pieces, the best that I can in the moment. Step by step. There is a purpose for/behind everything. I feel a bit like a rock on the beach, getting polished by the wind, by bumping up against all the other stones,and tumbled by the endless waves.
Through my years of personal therapy and growth, from my spiritual work, and my studies in Eating Psychology, I know that now is a great opportunity for me to dive deep and look at these things. To feel what needs to be felt. Examine what needs to be examined. And, remember that not everything needs to be examined and picked apart. I had lunch with a friend the other day and his great quote was ” You don’t have to know what you ate to be able to poop.” Hahaha!! Just let the experience be the experience, digest it, and flush it.
Fire transforms. Pain transforms. Age transforms us. The kiln of our life takes what we give it – clay that has been worked and worked – and gives us strength, beauty, and function. And, sometimes, things crack , break, and crumble. Sometimes what things don’t quite look the way we planned. In our lives, we go through the fire, again and again.
Her comment reminded me of several Japanese traditions and concepts, that of Wabi-Sabi and that of the pottery mending technique called Kintsugi.
Wabi-sabi is the art of imperfection, of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet—that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time. Beauty can be found in all bodies, in all of life’s experiences.
Kintsugi is a technique used for mending pottery, using gold to fill the cracks. As a philosophy, it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. Not only is the repair not hidden, it is illuminated.
What if we incorporated these ideas into our daily life ? How profound and powerful. As I go through life’s fires and trials, not only do I get burnished,I may get some cracks, have some breakage. What if I looked at those cracks as beauty ? What if I filled them with gold ( love, power, beauty, wisdom…) and wore them proudly ? Not painting OVER them, not throwing the pot away and starting over but beautifying the wounds ? Gold is precious, making the pot ( our life) more valuable.
I love how the mind works because all this then led me to remember some lines from a Leonard Cohen song.
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in. ”
So, here he is, singing so powerfully for so many years.
Thanks, Wendy. and thanks, Life, for bringing me back to this place of filling the broken places with gold – the brilliance of love, friendship, acceptance, grace, humility, gratitude…