Lockdown Kintsugi

And so the high strangeness of Coronavirus continues.

If you’re anything like me, some of the following things may be occurring to your good self:

You’ve regressed to feeling like an 8 year old at the beginning of the summer holidays, except you have no concept of time. You also lack any immediate control of your future, so the idea of next week, month or even next year hovers around the corner like a blurry cloud.

In this strange regression to childhood, your parents are absent/invisible/so disengaged that you’re left to fend for yourself in your house.

You’re kind of wandering around, enjoying the space.

Wondering if you should bake a cake.

Making up each day as you go long.

The usual patterns are no longer running the show but they’re taking a little time to realise that there’s a new sheriff in town.

Your mind reaches out to do/consider/think about something … and is immediately blocked.

This could be:

1) A work/money consideration … but oh yeah, you are now unemployed/signing onto Universal Credit.

2) An impulsive urge to go and do something you’d normally do … but can’t cos you’re housebound.

3) A nice little daydream about something that’s coming up in the next few months … which you quickly remember is cancelled due to unforeseen Coronastances.

Basically, every time your brain perks up with a helpful suggestion, it remembers that 99.9% of what it’s going to offer is redundant so it gives up and slopes off sulkily to scroll through Facebook instead.

Previously redundant stuff in cupboards/loft have ridiculous new levels of  value.

Either it’s something you can reread, re-purpose, turn into something interesting to entertain your children with. Bags full of fabric that you always intended to use have now turned into gold dust for home education purposes. Books that you were going to get rid of on Ziffit are handled like precious gems. The most hated board games become treasured family guests, treated like Royalty and given honoured places on living room shelves.

Even the most uncomfortable bra at the bottom of your drawer feels like it’s part of your personal arsenal that is going to hold you both mentally and physically in place over the coming months.

Everything you ever managed to not throw out, seems to have a revitalised purpose and value.

And, I don’t know about you … but I can’t help feeling that all of the above offers a pirate bounty of treasure and gifts.

The Gift List

The first gift is a big Pot of Thinking Time.

When we regress and go back to being 8 years old, with an endless summer holiday ahead of us, it creates a dreamy, reflective sort of atmosphere.

We can use this time to bang our heads against walls, imagine butt-clenching scenarios  of what the future may hold, chew over the positive and negative implications of being stuck in lock-down or furiously debate whether this whole thing is a result of biological warfare or some sort of elite conspiracy to clamp down on our freedom and detain all humanity in our bedrooms.

Like it or not, we’ve been gifted a massive pot of time to think.

This container is a gift. What we choose to fill it with is kind of down to us.

Note: Thoughts tend to create feelings. Feelings tend to motivate behaviour. Our mindset has the power to propel us through this or have us going round the twisty twonk. We have the freedom to choose what to think about/focus on.

The second gift is a strong new boundary which has divided up our lives into strange portions: the portion of what we can access and the portion of what we can’t access.

Suddenly, what we are left with is our homes, the people we cohabit with, our level of health, including our mental health. We also have our pets. Our gardens or back yards. What is tucked away in the loft/cupboard/our husband’s man-drawer. We also have our extended community are around us via the online world.

So, now we get to focus, nurture and build on what remains within our reach.

We get to choose whether we fight, look after, protect or resist the experiential card hand we’ve been dealt. We get to choose who we are going to be and how we’re going to show up. We get to decide the character we’re going to play in a whole new game.

The third gift is embedded in Heightened Value.

I’m not just talking about the things that will serve us in surviving the next few moths (ie. books, baked beans, hobbies, online courses etc) but more specifically, the things that we had previously written off as broken.

For example, you know the old website you never get around to fixing because you never have time, and you don’t want to face anyway because it reminds you of a failed business? What can you do with that now?

Or what about the broken relationship you pretend is okay because facing it might mean changing your lives in a way you can’t bare.

Are you having to face that relationship “face on” as a result of lock-down – and how will you navigate it now?

What about the lost, anxious, divorced parts of yourself that you are usually able to run away from and have, maybe, been running away from for years?

How can you turn and face these things, take a deep breath and lean towards them with courage and healing?

Hidden in the broken things that are left in our lives during lock-down, lies the gift of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with golden lacquer. Shattered pieces are put back together. These pieces are then fixed with gold, becoming even more beautiful than they were before. Instead of being discarded and replaced with something brand new, the gold lace-work adds to the beauty of the pottery and it becomes prized for its beauty and aesthetic quality.

In our throw away, consumer culture (before Covid-19) we are taught that the shiny, new, flawless version is the superior one. This could be an item of clothing, a sofa, a face, a body, a business, a relationship or whatever.

We are taught that everything is replaceable.

Everything is disposable.

The nest best thing is only a purchase away.

This is why we don’t go to the cobbler to have the sole on our shoes fixed. Or why people have lost the ability to darn a sock or sew on a button or find the value in an old friendship that got broken and never fixed.

Kintsugi teaches a different philosophy; to instead shift our perceptions to look, see and lean into the value of the things that are broken. And instead of writing them off, sitting with those things and then finding ways of darning them back together. Maybe those things won’t be fixed and will remain eternally broken. But imagine all of the things that could be saved and strengthened and turned into things that are more beautiful than they ever were before.

That would be a lock-down well spent!

In this long, yawning space we have ahead of us, I invite you to make a list of all the things in your life that are broken, dysfunctional or just seem old, outdated and past their  use by date.

Ask yourself how it would feel to turn and face those things and giving them a chance to be reborn?

Ask yourself what it would take to now approach these broken things as an opportunity to recreate something stronger, revitalised and beautifully laced with gold.

And see how that changes everything.

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