It had been years in the making.
In just a few short days, the emperor and proud father, would be appointing his son to take up his mantle as ruler of the kingdom. He worked for weeks, making preparations for the festivities, from getting the best food to the best entertainers.
He had crafted an extravagant crown of gold, but that wasn’t the piece he was most proud of. A year in advance, he had commissioned a beautiful bowl to be made by the most famous Japanese craftsmen in the kingdom. Seeing it today was breathtaking. He couldn’t wait to share it with his guests.
Unfortunately, life had its own plans. Later that day, one of his servants had accidentally knocked the bowl off its pedestal, causing it to break into several pieces. Upon reporting the incident to the emperor, he was distraught. Not angry, but saddened that he wouldn’t get the chance to share the beauty of the bowl with his friends and family.
His somber mood did not go unnoticed by his son, as they sat for dinner that evening.
The next morning, as the emperor prepared for the big day, he received even more bad news – the crown he had crafted for the ceremony had gone missing during the night. Some reported seeing a strange man running through the streets, but none recognized him. Furthermore, the emperors son had been locked away in his room all morning.
The emperor couldn’t believe his misfortune over these past few days. He told the servants to leave him alone in his apartment, as he awaited his sons arrival for the ceremony later that day.
As the hour grew near, his son finally presented himself. When the emperor asked what he had been doing all night, he told him all would be clear soon enough. The emperor did notice his hands looked raw and worn, but put no thought into the matter.
They proceeded to the hall together for the ceremony and as they entered, everyone was shocked to see what was before them.
There was now a magnificent bowl, that was held together by veins of gold joinery, sitting on the pedestal. It was even more beautiful than before. Next to it was a slim band of gold, a new crown that was unassuming, but still conveyed great strength.
The emperor shed a single tear and beamed at his son with pride. He now knew for certain that he was making the right decision.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with a mixture of lacquer and golden powder. The literal translation of kintsugi is ‘golden joinery’ or ‘golden repair’, but it means much more than that.The philosophy behind kintsugi is one that values not only the beauty of an object, but also its imperfections, viewing them as something to celebrate, not disguise.
Just because something is broken, does not mean it does not deserve our respect and attention. It still has much to offer and so repairing broken objects with gold, became a way to transform the imperfect into something beautiful once again.
This same philosophy can and should be applied to life.
We all hope for a good life. We all seek perfection. We want happiness and prosperity and success, yet things are never so easy. Life is full of ups and downs and sometimes it can feel broken and damaged and imperfect.
If there are no ups and downs in your life, it means you are dead.
The truth is, it is such struggles and challenges that make life worth living. That make the good that much better. Following the philosophy of kintsugi, what becomes important is how we handle the situations that don’t go our way.
We shouldn’t hide them away or prevent them from being part of who we are. Instead, we should embrace them and let them make us stronger. We should grow and allow them to transform us into something beyond our wildest dreams.
Life will never be perfect. Things don’t go as planned and our time here on Earth is full of twists and turns. What we can do though, is control how we react to our struggles and challenges.
Embrace the imperfections. Realize they are just as important as the rest. After all, without the bitter, the sweet isn’t as sweet.