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We are all Broken that’s how the Light gets in : Ernest Hemmingway
Rumi once said, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” This goes to show just how much he understood what most of us still struggle to grasp today.
We associate light with purity, goodness, happiness and freedom, while wounds are usually linked to suffering, pain or generally something to be avoided. But here’s the tricky question: can we have one without the other?
Now, forgive me if I get a little too philosophical here, but are you aware of the one thing that Neuroscience, Taoism, Buddhism and Stoicism all have in common?
It’s that these concepts and lifestyles don’t see pleasure as happiness. They instead consider pleasure to be fleeting, something that makes people always crave more and never be content.
According to neuroscience, pleasure is nothing but dopamine, and all people need is dopamine to feel pleasure. With more dopamine, it does not mean we’ve found genuine happiness, it just means we have managed to momentarily avoid and ignore pain.
In the case of Buddhist teachings, Buddha states that avoidance of suffering only leads to more suffering.
So, if all these esteemed figures in science and religion are saying all these things, then what exactly is real happiness?
Well, if we were to follow these schools of thought, real happiness is the acceptance of pain and problems, of choosing peace over fleeting joy, and of finding that joy within our challenges.
This means that we can only find happiness in the midst of accepting and solving our problems. That is, light can enter only when we’re “broken”, or as I like to think, “open” to receiving it.
Let’s use gold-laced Japanese pottery as an example.
Have you ever wondered about its peculiar design? Of course, right? Well, I’ll have you know that there is quite the story behind this particular concept.
In the Japanese tradition, broken pieces and cracks in pottery are honored instead of being discarded. Each crack in pottery is glued so seamlessly back into place with gold lacquer that it is hard to tell whether any part of it was ever broken in the first place.
Perhaps that is the very charm of this art—without the cracks, this too would have looked like a regular piece of pottery.
In Japanese culture, this philosophy is famously known as “kintsugi”. What makes this practice so incredibly beautiful is that it stems from the idea of cultivating perfection from the imperfect.
Deeper Insight into quote by Mahatma Gandhi: An Eye for an Eye makes the whole world blind
Another amazing thing about this philosophy is that we can utilize this wisdom of kintsugi in our daily struggles, but first, let me throw you a question:
If being broken in some way is so important for us to be able to “receive” light, why do we struggle with the concept of being flawed?
Simple. It’s because we have become so conditioned to accept nothing less than perfect that we often forget that the beauty of an object, a person, and even an experience lies in the entirety of it, good and bad.
It’s the flaws that make that thing so “perfectly imperfect”.
You see, we’re living in an era where it’s easy to get lost in trends that chase unrealistic perfection. Especially with the rise of social media, a filtered “picture perfect” version of everything seems to be the be all and end all.
But look around you— after all that stress, we’re still the unhappiest we have ever been. This flawed concept of perfection has totally taken us away from what’s real, what’s beautiful, and most importantly, what’s meaningful.
These days, it’s easy to forget that what’s beneath the surface ends up mattering more than what meets the eye.
A great example of this is a man who tried to peel the layers of a pearl to get rid of a spot on its surface.
Disregarding that this imperfection is what made the pearl a rare find, this man continued to peel away layer after layer to get a perfectly spotless pearl, only for him to realize that the end result was absolutely nothing.
The cracks and imperfections in people are not very different. This is why old people who have seen and stormed through the seasons of life, been broken by pain and loss, yet enriched by experience are deemed the wisest of us all.
We look up to them because they’ve embraced their flaws and moved through life cherishing them.
In exactly the same way people who radiate confidence and joy are not those who have sailed through life smoothly, but those who have learned to surf life’s turbulent waves instead of avoiding them.
These people have accepted their imperfections, they let their scars remind them of their strengths, and they remain proud of that all the time!
So when we talk about Ernest Hemmingway’s famous words- “We are all broke and that’s how the light gets in”, I guess we can see how all this comes into play.
To put it simply- people, objects and experiences obtain beauty and value from not being flawless or perfect, but from gracefully enduring time, experiencing the transient stages of life and still retaining their spark!
So the next time you catch yourself judging the worth of a cut, crack, or broken piece—whether that’s within yourself or in your environment—look to nature and rediscover its value!
Just like we need the presence of darkness to see the glow of light, we need to understand that real growth can never happen in a place of absolute comfort.
If we are willing to be vulnerable enough to open our hearts and minds to the endless possibilities there are, we might just be able to move past our broken selves and see the beauty of our flaws! And that’s exactly what makes us true masterpieces, and in this lies the wisdom of life.