“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” — Hemingway
They say that optimism and joie-de-vivre toward the world is an affectation of youth. That those who remain soft will give way to the breaking forces of the harsh world. Those who maintain the vibrant glows of belief into old age are oft written off as naive or out of touch.
But the fact of the world the world is that it has smooth corners, but also many jagged edges. And eventually, we will collide with one of these jagged edges. And we will be hurt. There is no possibility. There is only inevitability. No interpretation.
This truth is one of the commonalities that forges the linking thread of the human spirit. I can’t count how many times I’ve been enveloped by the heavy darkness, that incumbent weight on Atlas’s back waiting to break him at a moment’s notice. A loved one parting from the world. A separation. A devastation. Or even that nebulous sense of human longing that at times overcomes the spirit to fill it with an essence it can never capture.
But in that heaviness is often the lightness. The capacity to reforge something as forcefully as it was torn asunder.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Japanese art of kintsugi. When a ceramic object — often a bowl — is broken, it is not discarded. Instead, it is remade with gold. And those striking scars within the bowl or object make it vibrantly beautiful — and singularly unique — never to be remade again.
For when something has suffered damage and has a history. Instead of trying to hide defects and cracks, these are accentuated and celebrated, as they have now become the strongest part of the piece.
Softness it not broken by hardness. That is the work of another hardness. Being to hold and affirm the truth of opposing realities and opposing states is the work of the world. And beauty often comes from their fusion.
The breaking and the mending.
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” — Vonnegut