When I was jumping through the hoops for my Master’s degree in Counseling, one of the requirements was that I complete several thousand hours in a clinical position, supervised by a practicing professional. During my interview for the position I ultimately took, the Doctor I was speaking with asked a few rather tough questions and, as I hesitated for a moment to gather my thoughts, he commented that my smile ‘looked like it was now being held up by two pins’. He was right. It was an effort at that moment not to appear as though I’d been thrown. Everything turned out well, though. He and I worked well together, we respected each other a lot, he’s one of the people I respect most in the psychological profession and it was a great experience. But I’ll never forget that comment. Two pins.
In any case…
When I took the break last month, I thought it would be a time of rest and I’d be able to gather myself and come back renewed for y’all. It started out pretty well, actually. The holidays were pretty good. I was worried cuz, as most of you know, this was the first holiday season I would be going through since I’d estranged from my parents and siblings. I was cautious and ready for all kinds of uncomfortable emotions I might experience. But none came. What I did feel was freedom. Liberty, not lamentation. More space in my world. Freedom, not fraughtness. It was a welcome surprise.
And then…2021 began. Seems we hoped it would be good riddance to the bad rubbish of 2020. We exhaled and thought ‘oh, good, we get to start over.’ Then January 6th happened. Our nation’s capital was attacked. By Americans. By violence and anger and insurrection. As I write this, I am cycling through several emotions – anger, sadness, shock, frustration, denial, some things I can’t describe – just the same as you, I’m guessing. I am not even sure I have those two pins to hold up a smile around anymore.
But I am thinking of all of you, my readers. I am thinking of this site – The Peace Lily – which I carefully named and intended to be a place of retreat and refreshment for our souls and minds. Which I aim to continue to be a refuge that offers hope despite all the crazy surrounding us.
On that note, I want to tell you about Kintsugi. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery. The broken areas of the pottery are repaired with a lacquer that is mixed with powdered gold (or silver or platinum). Using the lacquer strengthens the piece. Additionally, the idea is to not only salvage the pottery but also to increase its value by using the gold/silver/platinum. It treats its brokenness and repair as part of the history of the piece, rather than something to hide.
It is my attempt at hope right now – in lieu of actual hope itself – that this art of Kintsugi can be applied to our American democracy. I am envisioning, although tentatively, a time in the not-too-distant future when we can collect the broken, salvageable pieces of our country and lacquer them together, thereby strengthening the whole and increasing our overall value. I’m attempting to hope that we can view this brokenness and repair as part of our history. I hope we can own it, refuse to hide it and see our value with its warts and all. Then, and only then, we can begin again.
In the meantime, I gotta go get me some more pins.