Repairing the Broken Year

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

2020, a year that was so damaging, must hold some meaning and understanding for us. Can we find a way to mend the pains and difficulties of this year?

Interestingly, the Japanese may have an idea for how we can think about this broken year and what we can do about it. It is referred to as kintsukuroi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery). 

In practice thistranslates to the art form of repairing broken pottery with a special lacquer and powdered gold, that actually includes highlighting the broken part of the object. The value and beauty of this new piece of artwork comes from recognizing and honoring its travails and imperfections.

We’ll all have remembrances of the difficulties of 2020. The breakages that disrupted out lives, creating pain and hurt, and challenging us in ways that we, perhaps, could not have recognized we had the capacity to address,  just a year ago. There have been many new learnings that may have helped salve the wounds like a balm that soothes and heals a physical hurt.

One thing I am doing is to keep and highlight a few small pieces of memorabilia from the year.  I’ll probably get some pictures of Sheila and I masked and hiking framed and put up on the wall. I’ll be holding onto the video podcasts of The Leadership Café, perhaps the one with Lisa Scales, CEO of the Pittsburgh Food Bank where she discussed how quickly her team adjusted to the incredible demands for addressing food insecurity in our community.   I may put away some election bumper stickers or my favorite mask (after I get vaccinated).

I understand the desire to just forget this year and move on, but unfortunately, the grief and loss process does not allow us to easily erase a year like 2020.

Like the broken piece of kintsukuroi pottery that features the shattered part of the ceramic, so, perhaps, should we not run from 2020, but embrace it and it’s gift of new learnings we, and our kids, and our community have achieved.

I wish you blessings for the New Year and hope that the dreams you imagine come true and that the unseen challenges you face get equally woven into the fabric of your year.

© Richard Citrin 2020

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