金継ぎ kintsugi

       
       This heart 
       longing for you,
       breaks
       into a thousand pieces—
       I wouldn't lose one. 

       ~Izumi Shikibu (974-1034)

Recently, the traditional Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with a mixture of lacquer and powdered gold has become quite well known in the internetosphere. We can even buy inexpensive kintsugi-kits online, making what was once rarefied, readily accessible to anyone. Of course authentic Japanese kintsugi with the use of real lacquer and gold does remain quite a rarefied art, but the spirit of kintsugi can be applied broadly through the use of other materials. So when my cat’s bowl—which I bought at a small shop on Kawaramachi street in Kyoto—was broken, I was grateful to have instant access to inexpensive kintsugi-kits!

But why kintsugi? Why not throw away the broken? What is the merit of holding onto broken pieces when there are plenty of new and beautiful replacements? Why fuss with the inconvenience of sticky glue and uncontrollable gold powder, and waiting 24 hours for it all to dry? The well known answer is the aesthetic quality and value which emerges when the totality of loss, brokenness, and healing is embraced fully. An object, rather than defective, is seen to deepen in qualitative beauty. The fractured lines are not faulty nor hidden—they emerge as new elements of design and expressiveness.

Perhaps that is why Izumi Shikibu’s poetry written some one thousand years ago remains with us still. She treasures every single one of the one thousand pieces of her broken heart, conveying the depth of her love and longing. In a few lines, Shikibu invokes the timeless and transcendent spirit of kintsugi.

If we likewise treasure one another and our relationships, indeed, if we truly cherish our own hearts, we may find within ourselves the rarefied and priceless beauty of kintsugi. We may discover that in the end, we are the gold.

beauty

maybe if i spill open
my heart
at the break of dawn
and let love shine
like sun gold
as it climbs over
peaks tops and ridges
glittering everything into new day

and maybe if i embrace
the light
with noontide soaring
to release my fears from
the shadows secrets and silence
like feathers
they'll erupt into euphoria
and flight

maybe if i serenade
the dark
as dusk deepens
and surrender my dreams
like sand
they drift to ocean beds
singing dancing and shifting
into pearls sparkling in the night

and maybe if i pour
my self
into the soft fold of night
to fall steeped in love
like moons
swollen cradled and hungry
for the round gravity
of blackness

then surely when i dance
for you
until i die
and give my body to a sacred fire
in beauty i will
have danced lived prayed and loved
in beauty i will
embrace death

beauty

if today i die
may beauty be my only
footprints in the sand

Ikigai, raison d’être, purpose, legacy… What is it, ultimately, that propels you forward in life? That keeps your fires burning at night and wakens you from your morning slumber? That enables you to rise again and once again, after each and every stumble or fall? That heals your grieving heart after loss? That brings you to your feet when life has brought you to your knees? That causes you to smile, once again?

Now and then life brings these questions to me, and inevitably, in one way or the other, I always come back to hózhó. Hózhó is the Navajo word for “beauty,” however, it is not limited to notions of aesthetic beauty but encapsulates a profound paradigmatic lens of beauty as composite expression of harmony, peace, balance, and reciprocity. Hózhó is my north star and my raison d’être.

And what is yours?

They say that each of us has come here for a reason, to fulfill some particular longing of the soul. Perhaps it is to experience joy, or love. Perhaps it is to be joy, or love, or beauty. Perhaps it is to learn how to rise again and smile, against all odds. Perhaps it is to acquire a soft heart after hardship. Or to discover light at the end of the tunnel, or to become that light. And it could simply be to discover whatever it actually is—that, that seemingly eternal chimera.

Whatever yours is, may it propel you ever forward on your path. May you walk in beauty. May you journey well. May your dreams be fulfilled.

Flower Power

Beauty is Love’s Flower

Preamble: This is the first time to upload a video to my blog post, and it is entirely the work of my iPhone which voluntarily made it for me! 🤣 But fortuitously and synchronistically so. I’d been wondering what one photo could capture the rich abundance of flowers and my phone spontaneously offered me this little photo montage. Thank you, iPhone! 😁

What makes you flower?
Like the stunningly vast array of flowers, what makes each one of us flower or thrive may indeed be very distinct. The needs of a pink water lily are not the same as those of golden gazanias. Where one would flourish, the other would simply wither away. But all flowers need the same elementals: some particular mixture of sun and sky, water, soil and minerals.
What is yours? Your optimal mix of elementals? The personal ecology that brings out your soul to shine? Are you flowering? What do you need to flower and to flower more?
What is your Flower Power?

The Quest

"In your light I learn how to love. 
In your beauty, how to make poems. 
You dance inside my chest where no one can see you, 
but sometimes I do, 
and that sight becomes this art. 
~Rumi~

What is it that awakens your love, kindles your desire to create, and
like the water’s sparkling surface—reflects back to you the artistry of your own soul?
If you know the answer to this question, you have found all that you will forever need.
If not, then rest assured that the light once sought, always find its seeker.
Reunion is the inevitable resolution of quest.

philocalist

philocalist: a person who loves beauty; one who sees and appreciates beauty in all things.

What is beauty? Like love, beauty is some kind of nameable uncontainable, some kind of innate and immediate and intrinsic nature of our humanness. And like love, beauty eludes definition the way sunlight escapes boxes and the shadows. We cannot live without the light. We cannot live without love and we cannot live without beauty.

Beauty might be a rose, or a stranger who comes to our rescue. It could be that smooth shiny surface of wooden floor boards worn step after step after step after step—a million times over. Or sparkles dancing on water. Dew in the morning light. A friendly smile. Honey. And sweetness.

In one way or the other, beauty is everything that is good. Like a natural point of rest, beauty is the default setting for our most essential selves. The Navajo word for it is Hózhó. Harmony balance reciprocity peace.

So in your moments of darkness, of hurt or of despair, look into the mirror and remember that not only are you beautiful—but that you are beauty itself… beauty reflecting beauty. Say not “I am beautiful”, but declare “I Am Beauty”. And everything else in this tumultuous life shall fall into place—step after step after step after step—you shall Walk in Beauty. Hózhó.

philocalist: a person who knows themself as beauty; one who walks in beauty.

Gold

this love is gold light
in wild flowers and bold skies
beauty everywhere

(haiku 5-7-5)

Walk In Beauty

Many years ago I was on a road trip through the American southwest and in a bookstore somewhere, stumbled across a small square book titled: Navajo, Walking in Beauty. It was then that I was first introduced to the Navajo word hózhó. Roughly translated into English as “beauty”, hózhó encompasses the concepts of harmony, balance, and reciprocal relations. Instantly, I fell in love. I was deeply moved by the possibility that beauty is an expression of harmony and profound spiritual realization—a perception that understands beauty to be both embodied aesthetic expression, as well as ineffable and transcendent sensibility.

Hózhó is realized by aligning one’s self with the forces of nature. It is a dynamic and ongoing process of harmonizing the self with the world and the entirety of the universe and existence. To “walk in beauty” is in essence, to live a life of harmony and peace.  

Following is the concluding refrain from a Navajo ceremonial song:

Beauty before me, I walk with.
Beauty behind me, I walk with.
Beauty above me, I walk with.
Beauty below me, I walk with.
Beauty all around me, I walk with.
In old age, the beautiful trail, I walk with.
It is I, I walk with.

Not only is one blessed to walk in a world of beauty, but in the end one becomes beauty itself. Hózhó. It is with this understanding of beauty by which I am most inspired to express myself in the world. Through my writing, photography, dance and poetry, I hope to invoke this world of hózhó. Whether on this website and blog, my social media pages or publications, I hope you will find inspiration and hózhó for your own journey through life. May you walk in beauty.

if today i die
may beauty be my only 
footprints in the sand