lac mahon, la peche, qc.

lac mahon, la peche, qc.
photo by graham law.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Where Our True Life Begins. by Shayla Wright.

Many years ago, when I was living in the Himalayas, a beautiful young woman named Pingala would come and wash my dishes every morning. She sang as she washed–it was one of the loveliest parts of my day, hearing the clattering of dishes down below my house, mixed with her chirping little songs, as she lit the fire to heat up the water. She washed my dishes for so many years that she began to feel like part of our family.

One day I dropped a cup on the floor and it broke into about fifteen pieces. I put it in the garbage, thinking that Pingala would throw it away. The next morning, all of those pieces came back to me, washed and carefully piled up in one corner of the dish bin. I didn’t understand what she was doing, so I put the clean pieces back in the garbage the next morning.

The next day I found the cup in my dishes. Pingala had glued all of the pieces back together again, with great precision and exquisite care. The cup spoke of that care when I looked at it, when I poured my tea into it and drank from it. It didn’t leak a single drop.

A few days later I saw Pingala and thanked her for my cup. I told her I thought it was beautiful. She laughed, with the teasing attitude that many of the mountain people had for those of us from the West. I realized that our tendency to throw things away felt childish to her, disrespectful and careless. I discarded that cup as something worthless, and she spent time and energy repairing it. In doing so, she began repairing something in me.

I left India very suddenly many years later, without time to go back and pack up my home and all of my belongings. All of my possessions were given to the victims of an earthquake in the next state. I was surprised at how easy it was to let go of everything I owned. But I often think of that little cup and wish I had it with me. That cup is the Indian version of kintsukori: the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold or silver, understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

One essay on the subject says that the true life of the bowl or cup began the moment it was dropped. That sentence pierces my heart and helps me understand what Pingala gave to me: that which has been mended radiates the truth of both its fragility and its resilience.

Cups shatter–so do dreams and human hearts. Our broken dreams and hearts carry their own hidden resilience, waiting for a moment in which we are willing to turn back towards them again, to stop discarding them as hopeless. We can breathe life into them if we have faith that they will be more beautiful now, than they were before they were broken.

To know this we have to walk through our self pity, our resentment, our bitterness, into the clear sweet place where our body takes the shape again of a ‘yes’ to life as it is. This life in which so many things are broken, and in which new life, resurrection, is possible.

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in" Leonard Cohen

with love, Shayla. 

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