Kintsugi’s metaphorical strength in Futures Thinking for Sustainability
How do we construct our images of the future? What do we base them on, and how well are we aware of that? And more importantly: do we provide enough space to grief about things from our past or in our present? In other words: are we courageous enough to face the fact that we have been hurt, but that we are still there, and that we can move on with our lessons learned? The same can be asked if we look at the current condition of the world. Can we accept that we have Injured and disgraced the Earth and that we are greedily tormenting it? Are we able to honestly, genuinely take a look into the mirror and realize that we are all part of the same severe imbalance?
The next question would be if we truly feel the deep grief that fills this state of awareness. Sorrow and misery do not represent the end of all. On the contrary, to make the necessary shift of consciousness for reconciliation with nature around and within ourselves, we must allow our grief to reveal its fruitful essence. To free ourselves from the dead ties to our past, we must resolve the patriarchal misconception that forces tears on women secretly angry and takes them away from mourning men. Neither grief nor anger is something to be ashamed of. None of them is reserved for masculinity or femininity. We all have the right and the pleasure to experience them.
We have to prepare ourselves to carry the types of knowledge that will open up to us when we connect to our inner wisdom. We are not ready yet. Christian society is drenched with the notion of sin. When we believe that we come into the world as sinners, how can we ever accept our mistakes? If we are told that we have to spend our lives paying for our wrongdoings, how can there be space for growth? When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, they became ashamed of their bodies. But knowledge does not make us sinful; it makes us vulnerable. With awareness comes vulnerability because we get insight into the fragility of existence. When we free ourselves from sin and recognize the value of vulnerability, we can use our knowledge for growth. Awareness will no longer be a burden; it will be a strength.
For this, we need the soothing arms of compassion. Its embrace will bless us with tolerance and save us from division. Compassion holds unconditional love for ourselves and for the world. Our longing for unconditional love causes our lostness because we are all searching for something that we already have. As long as we do not turn our gaze into ourselves, we will never find it. Being compassionate means accepting ugliness and still loving, which implicates unconditionality. In realizing that we do not only have unconditional love, but in fact, we are it, our heartrending wandering ends. Not only does it heal our hearts, it makes us see that they were never broken.
Should we leave the break lines visible? Yes. They will remind us of our struggle and be symbolic of our perseverance. Even if we manage to reconcile ourselves with nature or nature within ourselves, knowledge fades. To keep balance, we must appreciate the historical value of our mistakes. Our scars, and those of the world, contain particular wisdom because they represent the building blocks on which our existence is built. However, scars have been wounds, and wounds need to heal to become scars. They need to be cared for, and they require rest.
Moreover, their healing requires the intuition that knows when to act and when to let be. From a state of intuitiveness, we also can accept, welcome, and trust transience. Everything that has a beginning comes irrevocably to an end, and seeing the beauty in that makes watchful. Essentially, vigilant living is what is needed to kindly dismiss the option of self-delusion.
What does this mean for futures thinking? It means that we have to accept everything that comes into the experience and look through the eyes of our (un)broken hearts. From this heart space, we can accept reality and simultaneously shape it. We can heal nature while accepting that it is broken. We can heal ourselves by experiencing that we have never been affected. When grief, with its honesty, throws us deep into the unconditionality of love, we can find ourselves again and be radically compassionate, meaning we do what we need to do. The solutions to our problems are within them. If we want to solve our issues, we need to deconstruct them, put them back together, enjoy the process, and never forget it.
According to Kintsugi artist Chiho Zushi, people can learn that if they have some injury in their minds or hearts, like a sad memory or the thought of, “I do not like myself,” they do not have to be afraid of being themselves; they are beautiful as they are. She also believes that ceramics are connected to the heart. She told me that when people have sad memories about broken tableware, they often blame or criticize themselves for that, and from there comes sadness. When you are creative and fix that sadness into beauty, the feeling of self-blame turns into a happier emotion and memory.Chiho Zushi