I’ve always been a good student. Straight A’s a lot of the time. For whatever reason I cannot fathom, school stuff just came easily to me. Some people thought I was a geek. In fact, I hardly studied. I just soaked it up. One reason might have been that reading was a welcome distraction from the worries of my childhood and youth. Books opened up a whole universe of alternatives. They taught me a lot of stuff. But they didn’t teach me the most important thing of all: how to live.
Thinking back I’m more and more amazed about the way today’s curricula are built. Math and biology, geography and languages, chemistry, music and physical education are important. Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of knowledge to be gained from those subjects that can be applied later, if you’re lucky, in a job of your choosing. But how on earth can an entire school system fail to teach you the most important thing there is to learn in life? How to live!
How to live a fulfilling life. How to love. How to deal with hurt. How to deal with loss. How to treasure the rare moments of total bliss when you do have them. And how to prepare yourself for when they end. How do you find out what makes you you, how to make yourself blossom? How do you lead an authentic life? And how do you live up to your true potential?
I can’t believe they don’t teach that at school.
I am at loss for words for the absurdity of it.
Here we are, pouring our souls out on blogs, in therapy sessions, with life coaches, with friends, with family. But no one really seems to know.
I guess that’s the explanation. If there is no generally accepted authority and teaching on how to live authentically and soulfully, there cannot be a curriculum. Which might explain why religion and spirituality are at an all-time high (that’s not a scientific observation or validated fact, just a hunch). They offer an explanation, they offer guidance on what is not explained, let alone taught at school (you will have figured out by now that I was not educated in any religious or spiritual tradition).
I’m left helpless in a way, falling back onto spirituality. It’s not an inbuilt instinct of mine, as far as my parents are concerned. It was just not part of how and where I grew up. It might however be inbuilt as far as I’m human. I feel this aching longing within me, the emptiness of an unfulfilled soul so badly lately, that I can’t but turn towards spirituality.
I haven’t quite discovered my niche yet. I’m hovering over mindfulness, zen, vibration, energy and lately: Kintsugi. A lot of Kintsugi.
I stumbled upon this concept after a reader and fellow blogger, a pretty good one for that matter, Juli Hoffman, commented on There is a crack in everything. She has an A-Z blog post series on procrastination, amongst others. And in there, very innocently hidden in the M part of it, was a reference to Kintsugi. Curious and starved for information and illumination as I currently am, I looked it up and instantly fell in love with the concept.
According to Wikipedia, Kintsugi, the repair of broken ceramic pots with gold dust, can relate to the Japanese philosophy of “no mind” (無心 mushin) which encompasses the concepts of non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as aspects of human life:
‘”Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated… a kind of physical expression of the spirit of mushin. (…) Mushin is often literally translated as ‘no mind’, but carries connotations of fully existing within the moment, of non-attachment, of equanimity amid changing conditions. (…) The vicissitudes of existence over time, to which all humans are susceptible, could not be clearer than in the breaks, the knocks, and the shattering to which ceramic ware too is subject.”
— Christy Bartlett, Flickwerk: The Aesthetics of Mended Japanese Ceramics
I love the idea of it. Weirdly so, because if you are a returning reader you will know that I am a die-hard perfectionist (on the road to recovery). It’s not that I think everything will ever be perfect. So not. But I’d sure love for it to be. Because then there would be no hurt. No loss. No confusion. Only moments of bliss. Deep knowledge of who we are. No questions on how to make ourselves blossom. On how to lead an authentic life, or how to live up to our true potential.
I love the concept – and at the same time I’m struggling with it. Big time. It’s basically asking me to do the opposite of what I’ve learnt to do. Rather than rejecting the cracks and dents and blemishes, the traces that life leaves on us, I’d have to cherish them, embrace them, own them. Perceive them not as ugly, but as beautiful. More valuable in a sense than the unbroken equivalent. It’s a weird upside-down-turned logic. It puts into question all we’ve learnt at school (and through media and advertisement) about what succeeding in life is all about.
We tend to think it’s about improving, perfecting, being without fault. When in fact, one of the most important things, maybe the one most important thing, to learn in life as that embracing our cracks, our dents, our blemishes is what truly makes us whole. And beautiful. And valuable.
I don’t know if and, if yes, when I will be able to transform this new-found knowledge into a lasting experience and attitude. You know, the application of a theoretical concept into real life, by feeling and living it, going through it rather than tip-toeing around it.
Which reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, in particular the scene where Socrates teaches Dan the lesson on the difference between both:
‘The world out there,’ he said, waving his arm across the horizon, ‘is a school, Dan. Life is the only real teacher. It offers many experiences, and if experience alone brought wisdom and fulfillment, then elderly people would all be happy, enlightened masters. But the lessons of experience are hidden. I can help you learn from experience to see the world clearly.’
Maybe there really only is one teacher able to teach us what we need to learn in life: life itself.
And it’s not an easy lesson to learn.
I find this hard to accept. After all I am a perfectionist. I’d like to know in advance. I’d like to control the outcome. I hate learning along the way. Even more so if I don’t feel safe. It sucks.
But as hard as I find that to admit, it might just be the only way.
Healing our wounds with (spiritual) gold.
In order to blossom.
Photo © Pixabay/kropekk_pl