You’re Cracked – The Kintsugi of You

"Kintsugi bowl made by Morty Bachar, Lakeside Pottery
Kintsugi bowl made by Morty Bachar, Lakeside Pottery

I love the look of Kintsugi. You know, the Japanese pottery with the intentionally decorated crack in it? The ceramic vessels have an incredible, gold streak adorning them, boasting their history and celebrating their imperfections.

People should be more like that.

There’s a theme that keeps popping up this week – the quest for perfection and the almost impossibility of attaining it. Some people believe it’s a “go-nogo gauge.” Whatever it is –their life, their work, their children, their relationships – it’s either perfect or a fail. That may be true if you’re talking manufacturing tolerances for pacemakers, but in most things…no.

An artist friend is preparing for a solo show and can’t seem to get his work “perfect.” I wonder why he tries so very hard. What I like best about his work is the interesting, varying, marks that make it unique. Some would call them imperfections – I just call them interesting. It’s what makes the work breathtaking.

I’ve yet to trust anything that I perceive as perfect. (click to Tweet). For me, that sort of glossed over, mass-production, lipstick, superficial crap is just not worth a second look. It’s esthetically unsettling. Show me some drips and bubbles and blemishes…there we go! And, if we’re talking about someone’s character or past, I have to wonder if those people who can do no wrong have plans to run for public office. I prefer people with a history…a couple unique cracks. But, maybe that’s just me.


I don’t like it.

I don’t trust it.

What if we quit trying so hard and trusted that it/we, were enough? Trust your work is enough. Trust you are Finding possibilitiesenough; and you’re right where you’re supposed to be. Seriously, could it be any other way? I believe that’s key, because in that trust there is “spiritual dust”…a magic that adds spice and flavor to who you are, what you do. That trust is the gold crack of your Kintsugi.

As I write this, I must confess, I’m not completely clear about if I’m writing for you, or for myself. We are, after all, mostly the same. I searched “imperfection” on my website, looking for related links for my dear readers and found lots and lots of related posts. Interestingly, many seemed to be written to remind both you and me of the path, the “Andres” philosophy of imperfection. Sometimes I intended for those posts to talk one of us off the ledge when  I one of us gets stuck, striving for the illusive, impossible perfection. Seems I sometimes struggle to embrace my own wabi-sabi, through I can so easily support and validate yours. It’s part of a spiritual practice – acceptance of imperfection, developing an actual appreciation for it and the art of forgiveness when imperfection bumps you on the nose.

I revel in our humanity and all its messy complications. I embrace you, the history of you, with all your bumps and cracks. I like it when we make mistakes, because not only does the act help us validate one another, but it also serves to teach us. Mistakes = Growth (click to Tweet). True as that is, we continue to strive for the impossible, and cast aside the pleasingly imperfect. We do it with people, we do it with work, we do it with ourselves. Please, don’t let shame drive you to hide your scars– they’re part of who you are. I hope you will join me in the celebration of our Kintsugi…since we’re all just a little bit cracked.

“There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”  ~ Leonard Cohen Selected Poems 1956-1968

May your crack be a glittering gold,



Michelle Andres is a writer and artist. She writes this blog to share tips for a well-lived lifeWriter, Artist, Coach and a finely run art business…just for you!

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Kintsugi bowl I
Another wonderful Kintsugi bowl by Morty Bachar, Lakeside Pottery

A special thank you to Morty Bachar at Lakeside Pottery for the images of the beautifully imperfect bowls. With some skilled attention, they’re better than new.

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37 Replies to “You’re Cracked – The Kintsugi of You”

  1. I totally agree with you. People who are comfortable with their “imperfections” are so nice to be with, unlike those hiding behind a brittle veneer of correctness. There was – and maybe still is – a tradition among the Amish whereby they would purposely make an obvious mistake in their quilts, called a “humility square”. It expressed deference to God as the only Creator of perfection.

  2. I spend too much time trying for perfection. Thanks to Marilyn Rose for the reminder of the Amish and their “humility square.”

    I’m so caught up trying to stay on top of latest technology, or setting up new ways to handle daily tasks, or perfecting my volunteer stuff…I’ve wandered away from my soul’s task which is my art.

    Thanks Michelle for this post. I’ve decided that my new drawing is just fine the way it is! It is not perfection and I love that very aspect of it. It is my way of honoring my little Dogwood tree that bloomed it’s heart out this spring. And I love it!

    1. Good for you, Deborah, for recognizing and putting the brakes on your time-wasting pursuits! You’ve got the wisdom to listen to your soul’s calling. So glad you love every aspect of your new drawing. You get to call the shots – you are the artist, after all! Keep creating! ~m

  3. Oh I think you and I could be fast friends, Michelle. I think of myself as a quirk magnet. Things happen to me that don’t necessarily happen to others. Because of that I accepted a long time ago that there’s no point for me to seek out perfection. It isn’t going to happen. I just have to embrace my quirkiness and move alongside it. Does that make sense?

    1. It makes total sense, Kelly! I’m not suggesting lowering the bar. Excellence is always an objective – but to hold on less tightly to the expectation of perfection. Often it’s those little cracks that make it or us extra special. 🙂

  4. I had never heard of this kind of Japanese pottery, but I agree it’s quite beautiful! I really struggle with wanting to achieve perfection, even if I know it’s not achievable. But I’ve been a perfectionist for as long as I can remember and trying to recover from that habit is not in the least bit easy.

    1. Melissa, Brene Brown is a researcher of shame and vulnerability. She says, “Perfection is a 20-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen and taking flight.” Several years ago she sent me her book – “The Gifts of Imperfection – Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.” It’s a read you may want to check out. Very good, to know you are not alone. Strive for excellence not perfection and embrace the beauty of whatever it is you get. And yes, the pottery is wonderfulI hope you show your cracks and paint them gold! xoxo – Michelle P.S. – I edited this reply twice to make sure it was correct (trying to make it as good as it could be). We are all a work in progress. 🙂

      1. Yes, I am a work in progress and trying every day to let go a little bit of that perfectionist tendencies! I love Brene Brown so I will definitely put that book on my to be read list.

  5. Michelle, Beautiful pottery . . . and love to hear Leonard Cohen’s quote again . . . and a good message. I’m able to do imperfection in my art better than in my expectations of myself, but that, too, is getting easier sometimes. Thank you for this post.

  6. Thanks for your great article. I have embraced the imperfect in my art making because I know that it’s what gives it depth and makes it so much more detailed and interesting. As with all other human beings still working on embracing my own imperfect parts and learning that these also make me deep and very interesting. An artists self work is an ongoing visual masterpiece that lasts for a lifetime.

  7. Oh goodness… what a great post. I laughed when I read your comment about manufacturing pace makers may need perfection but not anything else.

    What beautiful pieces of pottery on display. Now if we can learn to see ourselves like this, beautiful with all of our imperfections!

    1. Thank you, Elda. I’m glad it hit the spot for you. It does take some doing to embrace our own imperfections…but the reward is a treasure of self-acceptance and liberation. I find we are also more forgiving of others, too. But, for me, time to time I backslide and get to start all over again. Cha-cha-cha!

  8. I so used to be such a perfectionist. Striving to get everything right!! Everything in it’s place…..and now…not so much. I realized nothing can be perfect and with that everything is beautiful in it’s own way. I’ve always loved the Chinese wisdom of the cracked pot. Where the old woman carried two pots of water home each day. But one of them was cracked and was ashamed because it did not supply the same amount of water that the pot that wasn’t cracked did. The woman told the pot how she loved that it was cracked. By it being cracked the pot was responsible for flowers growing on that side of the road as it leaked all the way home. 🙂 There is perfection in everything we just need to see it for what it is.

  9. People who look “too perfect” can fall into what’s known as “the uncanny valley”, not quite human enough for comfort. Myself, I have never had a problem with being too perfectiuonist; there is always room for improvement in my work!

  10. I don’t trust “perfection,” either (and I put it in quotes because I believe that any so-called outer perfection is usually a mask for an inner mess).

    In my art and writing, I try to walk the line between doing my best and not giving into the temptations of perfectionism. I’m better with some mediums than others, better on some days that others. For the most part, though, I err on the side of having fun these days. And hallelujah for that!

  11. Great post Michelee. I think the world would be a vastly better place if we valued kintsugi far more than airbrushing. May we gall shine brightly, live authentically, and celebrate ourselves and each other.

      1. Deborah, I love the imperfect spelling! I still knew what you meant. Yeah, that airbrushing…yuck…it tries to trick us all into believing the lie. We are good enough, and the work we do is just what it’s supposed to be. Keep sharing your gifts!

  12. Beautiful reminder! I try hard to make sure my kids screw up often, LOL. Reminding them to be imperfect and keep trying new things is a great way to remind myself also. When someone give me crap about how I raise my kids, I tell them, “I gave birth to these two, they’re mine to mess up in the best ways I can.” There is no such thing as a perfect parent or perfect human being.

    I Love flaws! I Love those odd differences that make things unique and definitely love the art of highlighting and celebrating the when something (or someone) has been through an experience that “cracks” them.

    1. Right on, Deb! Keep carrying that torch. No one can love your kids like you do and, you’re right, no one is a perfect parent! Carry on messing stuff up and learning! ~m

  13. Michelle I think that this is fantastic! I am one of those ‘beat myself up over things’ kind of person, although in later years I have come to embrace most of my mistakes as learning experiences and things that have shaped my path. This blog was such a fluid read and each sentence kept me grabbing for more. You are marvelous and your writing is very influential! I Love it! Thank you for giving us the ok to be a little cracked!

    1. Lindsay – WOW! Thank you for the kind words about my writing. Yes, mistakes are our best teachers. I’m so happy you’re cracked…I’m not alone. 🙂 ~m

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