To Repair or Not to Repair?

woman holding pot painting
by Helena Popovic

There’s a Japanese art form called Kintsugi that involves restoring broken pottery by repairing the areas of breakage with lacquer that’s mixed with powdered goldsilver or platinum. The philosophy behind the practice is that the breakage and repair are part of the history of the object, not something to hide or be despondent about. 

When you lift a heavy weight, what you’re actually doing is creating micro-tears in your muscle fibres which then have to repair themselves. The process of repair leads to stronger and bigger muscles.

When we mend a broken relationship, it’s an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and deepen the connection. 

When something breaks or tears or needs repair — whether it’s an object, body part, relationship or dream — it gives us an opportunity to reflect on how much we value the thing or the person or the goal. 

Whatever the context, repairing and mending are an act of love, creativity and growth.

Love comes from the perspective of the owner because if they didn’t value whatever was broken, they wouldn’t bother trying to repair it. Love comes from the perspective of the mender because they’re actively helping someone and restoring not just the object but the joy and the stories that go with it. 

So contrary to what we tend to assume, repairing something doesn’t decrease its value. It increases its value — because of the love, thought, creativity and giving that go into restoring it. 

Repairing something doesn’t weaken it either. When we mend muscles or relationships we strengthen them. And we grow. 

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