When I was eating breakfast this morning, my plate snapped in half cleanly when I picked it up.
So I turned it into an art project.
I put it inside a ziplock bag, took it outside, smashed it against the concrete, brought it back inside, and carefully started to glue each piece back together.
When else in life are we explicitly able to break things in order to put them back together again, just to see how it works? I’ve recently been trying to reframe moments of breakage as an opportunity to see how things come back together: sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always different.
In light of recent events, people are finding different modalities to experience things together in a somewhat “physically fractured” society (catching up with someone across the world is now the same as catching up with a friend down the block, workouts and meditation classes now transitioning online), as well as ways to support our “perpetually fractured” healthcare system (automotive industries now converting their facilities to make masks, scuba masks repurposed as ventilators): the power of creative constraints. This being said, there is still a long way to go.
The first few months of 2020 started out rough for me, too – a severely broken heart, followed by a major concussion two days later. The week I planned to return to work from medical leave, the shelter-in-place began. While I still am extremely grateful to still have a job during this time, I felt as though everything I touched (including the plate, it looked like) broke.
The question then became for me, can you make art with trying times, or at least try to appreciate them more? In this moment, the end goal wasn’t the outcome; the plate was already deemed unusable. This time, I wanted to explore a process in training patience. In repairing the plate, I learned a lot of things, and I wanted to share some with you – some metaphors for everyday life during this collectively difficult time.
>> I couldn’t really see how everything fit together until I started the process of glueing. It was overwhelming to lay down and try to piece everything together from the get-go. Sometimes I had to glue smaller pieces together to make a big piece, and then fit the two larger pieces together. Starting was difficult, but the little wins made it easier to see where I was headed along the way.
>> At the beginning, there was this one small piece that I had no idea where to fit – later, it became so obvious to me after a couple of other pieces came together, that I couldn’t believe that I didn’t see it before. But instead of beating myself up, I gave myself gratitude for having come so far.
>> A fresh perspective helps (in this case, it was turning the plate upside down to see how things fit differently).
Lastly, I wrote poetry along the edges of the breakage points before putting the plate together (see bottom of the post). For me, this was / is an act of healing. Patiently, slowly, I am learning how to put myself together with the same care I am giving this plate: ironic, isn’t it? Only by fixing something else, I’m fixing myself in the process. Maybe the plate will never be the same that it once was – but it’ll won’t be any less whole. Well maybe technically speaking, slightly less. But I’ll always take that over another whole, perfect, and boring item you can order from IKEA.
Now, it (I / you / we) has become part of a much more interesting story.
– – – –
The first day of spring came
65 days later
And with that, the first signs of healing – of heart and head and spirit
Beginning process to reinvest in the self
A yoga stretch
A first kiss shared with someone else
A flower choosing to blossom than to stay in the bud
Exercise and connection still both a dizzying experience but gently calibrates back to:
The sides of the membrane rebalancing now at declining speed
And maybe I am not yet ready to run but at least I am back on my feet
I anticipate there will still be times
When I finally feel whole
That I will be uprooted again and again
A scab hurriedly retorn
Marks of my own impatience of thinking I am further healed than I actually am
But I will forgive myself for my misjudgment
And refuse to be harsh towards myself
Because at the end of the day
I have trust
I have love for myself
I have utmost faith that I will get back up again – one more time
And I will not give up on myself
The way you gave up on us