Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
– Leonard Cohen
“Suddenly I stopped, because I realized what my subconscious mind was doing while I was sobbing: my subconscious mind was busy working out a novel about failure.” – excerpt from A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle
Last week I told my husband about some of the comforting calls and emails I had received in response to my angst-filled post bemoaning all my good fortune. That post, about my twisted response to good news, stands as sufficient evidence as to the correctness of my husband’s rejoinder,
“Don’t they know,” he said, not at all unkindly, “that all writers are screwed up?”
We both laughed (one of us a tad more maniacally than the other).
I will allow Madeleine L’Engle to reply, “I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their validity, no matter what.”
I have always been a fan of wabi-sabi. Not only because I love the rhythmic loveliness of that glorious word combination, but also because of the lushness of its meaning; how it holds imperfection and transience as part of what makes something beautiful.
And now I’ve discovered kintsugi or kintsukuroi – the Japanese art of mending what is broken by fusing it with a mixture of resin and gold, resulting in a scarred and deeper beauty.
I am beginning to believe the Japanese have the best words for everything.
But more than that, I fully embrace this world view of perfect imperfection in all its ephemeral beauty.
Life, in all its forms, is flawed and fleeting. Isn’t that precisely why we hold it so dear?
Madeleine L’Engle should have the final word:
“What is mental health, anyhow? If we were all what is generally thought of as mentally healthy, I have a terrible fear that we’d all be alike…I can’t think of one great human being in the arts, or in history generally, who conformed, who succeeded, as educational experts tell us children must succeed, with his peer group…If we ever, God forbid, manage to make each child succeed with his peer group, we will produce a race of bland and faceless nonentities, and all poetry and mystery will vanish from the face of the earth.”