Kintsugi: What is Broken Can Be Mended

Marvin Liao
2 min readMay 23, 2024

It’s hard not to be depressed, distressed or weary when one looks out toward the world and news and social media.

It’s been such a rough couple years since 2020. First the pandemic and insane lockdowns, the BLM riots, a contentious election in the US. Followed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel Oct 7th, 2023 and the breakdown of the world into different factions. Crazy high Inflation and a strange economy where the rich get richer but where everyone else is falling behind.

Up and down stock market and mass layoffs in tech and Wall Street and now Main street.

The middle class is being crushed by technology and a new form of globalization. The populace of most countries are divided between political ideologies. Left versus right. Traditional versus Degeneration. Everyone seems insane and the world seems broken and fractured.

Many of us haven’t fully recovered from the psychological scars caused by Covid pandemic and lockdowns, especially our kids. My family and financial/business life was wrecked that cursed year of 2020.

While business-financially I’ve more than recovered, 4 years later my family life is still a mess. Especially with my beloved daughter, both being in the awkward teenage years and her lingering stress from the challenging 2020 time has strained our relationship badly. It continues to be a source of pain for both of us.

But I recently discovered a Japanese pottery style called Kintsugi. It takes broken pieces of pottery and repairs it by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer mixed with powdered silver, gold or platinum. The results are absolutely beautiful. It looks so much better than before it was broken.

It is linked to the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi: “a worldview centred on the acceptance of transience, imperfection and the beauty found in simplicity. Wabi-sabi is also an appreciation of both natural objects and the forces of nature that remind us that nothing stays the same forever.”

Source: https://theconversation.com/how-the-philosophy-behind-the-japanese-art-form-of-kintsugi-can-help-us-navigate-failure-193487

I’ve decided to use Kintsugi as a model for life going forward. “The Conversation” article goes on to say: “There are no attempts to hide the damage, instead, it is highlighted. The practice has come to represent the idea that beauty can be found in imperfection. The breakage is an opportunity and applying this kind of thinking to instances of failure in our own lives can be helpful.”

I believe that whatever is broken can be fixed. Especially when it’s your own fault. But like all things important it will be hard and takes immense commitment, effort and time. Commitment and effort is something I have in spades. And with some time, good results should be inevitable.

Like Kintsugi, the hope is that your breakages in life can be repaired and ultimately made even better and more beautiful with time, care and effort.

--

--

Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com