My Broken Places

2015-01-22 10.28.20In my forthcoming book I wrote this: “When traditional Japanese ceramicists mend broken pots they fill the cracks with gold. This is not to mask the break, but to accentuate it—the idea is not to hide the suffering. The otherwise unmarred object doesn’t lose value, but gains. The crack demonstrates that life has happened to that pitcher or teacup, much as life happens to us, showing up in our visible and invisible scars. The Japanese term wabi sabi refers to a sensibility that an artist brings to her work that accepts loneliness and invisibility, as well as imperfection and transience, and allows them to manifest like shards of lightning.”

I wrote that without any sense of foreknowledge, without an inkling that it might apply to me physically. But since falling last Saturday and being unable to walk without crutches due to badly torn ligaments in my foot, I have been feeling that life is happening to this vessel, this body, to this heart, breaking me here and there. And the light that’s gotten in? Acceptance of kindness—from strangers and acquaintances, family and friends. I find I have to accept the cracks to let that light in when I’d rather pretend otherwise, push on through and pretend everything is just fine, thank you! It’s not. I am good at relying on myself but not all the time, not exclusively. Pretty much all the time, not exclusively. Who am I fooling? The kindness I’ve received sends light into my brokenness and enlivens me.

Thank you to those whose names I don’t know who’ve opened many doors for me—literally. And to these people: Margaret who brought food and drove me around and lent me her crutches, Jory and Karen who not only offered me a place to stay but to drive from Santa Cruz to Monterey to pick me up for my teaching engagement on Saturday and then to drive me back home!!!! Thank you to those who call and leave messages, and call again: Gina, Suzanne; my sister, Beth, and Martha from Switzerland. Gabriella who suggested I come two months early to Seattle so she could take care of me! Diane who helped to make the Monday writing retreat possible; my Monday students and my Tuesday evening students; my neighbors Rey and Tammy who brought pizza. To Anna who lent me her scooter. Thank you to my father whose at whose bedside I sat and when I began rewinding the ace bandage around my paddle-foot, tapped his knee and said, “Here, let me do that for you,” like he used to do when I was little and he tied my shoes. To my husband, Michael, who actually loves most all of the cracks I have! These are beautiful words, “Here, let me help you.”

3 thoughts on “My Broken Places

  1. I love your writing.
    As I read this piece I could feel the words were like light illuminating me.
    I love wabi sabi because of the imperfection and because it teaches the value and beauty in that imperfection.
    I am am sending healing energy to you as your ligaments heal.

  2. Hi Patrice,
    Thank you for this. All of us need to love our broken places and realize the value they offer. One of my favorite quotes is –

    “A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”
    ― Chris Cleave, Little Bee

  3. Oh my dear bird, We all fall down (remember that song we sang as young children with loose limbs and flexible bodies!) and our need for support forces us to accept love in a very different way. I fell down several weeks ago, gave myself whiplash! I now depend on the healing hands of physical therapists who have touched my sore spots with tenderness and cradled me. My eyes stung as hot tears made salty trails down into my ears. Who helps us when we fall? Those who truly love us. You have many many loves….a reflection of how much and deeply you love!

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