acceptance, addiction, attitude, back pain, body image, car accident, chronic pain, disability, doctors, funny, happiness, happy, health, humor, illness, inflammation, injury, invisible illness, Kintsugi, Life, lifestyle, love, medical, medication, nerve pain, prescription, spoons, Wabi-Sabi, wellness, Wolverine
Comments 4

Let’s Talk About Wabi Sabi, Kintsugi, and Invisible Illness

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of I Forgot How To Feel Better

I finally caught up with a couple fragments of thought for this edition of Wear, Tear, & Care. For weeks now I’ve been pondering two Japanese concepts: Wabi-Sabi and Kintsugi.

Wabi-Sabi: “the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection“.

Kintsugi: the art of repairing broken pottery with gold.

These two Japanese practices can easily parallel the difficulties that arise when discussing self-acceptance of invisible illness. More often than not, I find myself saying that because I am not perfect — because I am not a fully-functioning human being, much less a movie-star-like specimen — that I am not worthy or deserving of… what, love? Life? Half the time I don’t even know. The most constant sense I have is that if I am a less-than-able person, then I am undeserving of happiness. That I won’t be happy unless I am whole.

Then I started really thinking about these Japanese practices. With Wabi-Sabi, in terms of how something imperfect can still be beautiful — this is something that I feel like every child is taught in grade school. Even though we’re all different, we are lovely in our own way, etc., repeat ad nauseam.

"Good job there, Jimmy! Keep making... uh... whatever it is you're making." (Wikimedia Commons.)

“Good job there, Jimmy! Keep making… uh… whatever that is.” (Wikimedia Commons.)

It’s the idea of Kintsugi that really gives me pause. It means that something broken can be repaired, and that it then becomes more. It becomes far more than it was originally. It becomes stronger. It becomes shinier. It becomes more magnificent because it has been broken

Let's get crack-a-lackin! (Wikimedia Commons.)

Let’s get crack-a-lackin! (Wikimedia Commons.)

It’s not so much about beauty for me as it is about being whole. Since I’ve been broken not once but twice, I know that I can’t realistically be repaired to 100 percent. I constantly feel like I’m not good enough. Those broken pottery shards might not have been good enough, either. They could have been discarded. They could have been tossed aside because they were no longer useful. But those artists fused the pottery back together with exquisite materials — gold and silver — creating splendid works of art that took the original product far beyond what it had initially been.

I am more than the sum of my parts. I have been experimenting with mindfulness and envisioning what I want for myself; in between all those little fractures and nerve channels in my warped body, I will spin myself with gold, inject the cracks with silver, and become stronger than I was before. The gold will become part of my skeleton, creating a work of art from broken pieces.


  1. “Repaired to 100 percent” of what? What we were before the breaks? But I became more when I broke, suddenly saw things I couldn’t see before, increased in understanding and empathy and ability to reach out to others. I don’t ant to go back to that lesser state. We are constantly expanding, changing, improving, trading off this for that. I am the sum total of what I was and am and will be, like a quantum wave function across all the time of my existence, and so are you. I choose to *love* this perspective, and can’t wait to see what else lies ahead. Is that Wabi-Sabi?

    -Kevin, thriving in spite of CFS et al

    P.S. Love the post, thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s