Kintsugi

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I was first introduced to this concept through Death Cab For Cutie's recent LP bearing Kintsugi as the title. I was raised in a very conservative Christian town from middle school through my high school graduation. I've realized recently that growing up in this setting has left me wounded by a lot of ideas in Americanized-Christianity; Fear of hell, angry God in the sky...(multiply that by daddy-issues)...and you’ve got yourself an thoroughbred emo kid. I’ve lived most of my life from underneath that shadow. This art form has helped lift up the hood and shine a light down into some of those dark places. 

Kintsugi is the remarkable Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with elegance and grace - a tradition with a lot to teach us more generally about how to handle the broken bits of ourselves.

Over time, Zen Masters developed an outlook that pots, bowls, cups and ceramics that had been damaged should not be neglected and tossed out. Rather, they should have our respect and attention and be repaired with enormous care. 

Kin meaning “gold” and Sugi meaning "join". The definition of the word means to “join together with gold”. In Zen, the broken pieces of a piece of pottery should be carefully collected, reassembled and joined together with gold. There should be NO ATTEMPT to disguise the damage. The point is to render the imperfections beautiful and strong.

Kintsugi belongs to the Zen Ideals of Wabi Sabi which cherishes things that have a rustic or weathered quality. One of the great proponents of Wabi Sabi was a man named Sen No Reku. On a journey through Japan he was once invited to dinner where the host sought to impress him with a precious and expensive tea jar he purchased from China. Reku never seemed to notice the jar and spent most of his time admiring a branch outside swaying in the wind. Shattered by his lack of interest after Reku left the host smashed the jar to pieces and ran to his room. 

Some other guests  found the pieces, swept them up, melted down gold and reassembled the jar. Months later when Reku returned he saw the repaired tea jar and said, “Ah, now it’s magnificent.”

 

 

Kintsugi encourages us to respect what is damaged, vulnerable and imperfect within ourselves and others. 

Ultimately we have two choices: To live in fear or love. Fear takes a microscope to the darkest parts of our lives. Love zooms wide and reveals how every blemish, crack, mistake and failure all swirl together to create a rugged piece of art. We are breathing masterpieces wrapped in flesh. Our imperfections can be the gold we use to glue our lives back together. 

In a rough patch a dear friend gave me this Leonard Cohen lyric. May it give you courage. 

“There is a crack

 A crack in everything

 That’s how the light gets in”

 

 

- Mikey

 

 

P.S. here is a great video on Kintsugi where I sourced a lot of my info from.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBUTQkaSSTY

How Do We Change?

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Hello Friends!

I’ve decided to start posting a (somewhat) regular Sunday blog. Shannon will be sprinkling some of her thoughts on occasion as well. Feel free to read it, share it, comment, agree/disagree. Let's build a community and grow together. Here we go! 

 

How do we change the way we see the world? Our neighbors? Our leaders?

I don't know. 

I’ve spent thirty years digging into this question and have never found the well full of gold. I’ve never had the Hollywood epiphany where a sad indie songs plays while I walk out of a coffee shop and every answer suddenly clicks into place like vertebrae in my spine.  Only when I’ve set the shovel down and stepped out of the rain have I started to slowly piece this puzzle together. How do we replace the negative and dark destructive behaviors we find living underneath the floorboards? How do we rip those boards up and let the light in?  Charles Bukowski would say “Don’t Try’’. The short back story of Bukowski is he was an alcoholic postal worker who was discovered by a publisher in his fifties. The publisher took a bet on him and won the house. I’m not positive but I believe the words on his grave are “Don’t Try” He didn’t change who he was, or have a vision board, or repeat daily positive affirmations that led him to his goldmine of success. Rather, he was his own grumpy, grouchy, old drunk self. (I'm not suggesting this lifestyle by any means.) However, there is something magnetic about his suggestion: “Don’t Try”. It’s counter cultural and is a jagged response to our culture's “Get rich or die trying" sentiment.  

To the achiever in us we wonder,  "What the hell this guy is talking about? What do you mean don’t try? Are you saying don’t have goals? Don’t have a plan? Don’t have a direction?". The more I sank into the meaning of those two words, the power of them slowly started to reveal the deeper beauty. We all have things we wish we could change: A muffin top we wish we could shrink, just earn a little more money, or be a little taller, shorter, thinner, bigger, stronger. “Don’t Try” reveals the illusion of our efforts. For me, the striving to do better or be perceived better came from a buried subconscious belief that I wasn’t enough. When one of our deepest held beliefs is that we are not enough it’s easy to see that storyline playing out in our lives: Self-deprecating humor, being terrified of what others think of us, losing weight solely because we want to be respected by others (or fill in the blank however you like). 
I can tell you this hasn’t worked for me...but “Don’t Try” has. 

"Don’t Try" is a different approach to change. It dives into what St. Augustine called “The Infinite Abyss Within”. It finds the scared little kid trapped inside a twenty-something's body and says, “You are enough". 

It’s an entirely different approach. Instead of looking in the mirror everyday and hating what we see and swearing to God we are going to change it…..We begin to love what we see, and that grace starts to gently sweep the dust out. (Other times that grace rips the floorboards up and reveals the dog piss that’s been there for 20 years.) Slowly, overtime the light starts to creep back in. Our mornings get slower, we find time to curl up on the couch with a coffee and a book. We take more walks, we light a candle and pray or meditate. We buy a new pair of shoes, or a cup of coffee, we call a friend. We think of ourselves less and get lost in the moment more. We feel our heartbeat and become captivated by the wonder of what it means to be alive.

Eugene Peterson was once asked to give some simple advice to anyone setting off onto their life’s adventure. His advice was simple: “Be Yourself”.
Love yourself. You’re the only one you’ve got. So maybe the shortest route to the change we see is to take inventory: Spread out all the sin, joy, pain, beatuy, and fear out like puzzle pieces on the table and begin to see how it all fits together. Instead of hiding our cracks, let’s highlight them. The cracks are what make us beautiful, raw, and human. Let’s “change” by loving and caring for ourselves and choosing to believe everyday we rise that “We Are Enough”. When we believe those words and this conviction seeps into our bones we begin to change not because we hope to be enough someday, but rather because we are already enough and it’s time to shed the dead skin. 

Walk in love. Walk in truth. Walk in constant forgiveness.

- Mikey Mains

Spring Tour 2018

After taking a break from touring for a bit, I'm happy to say I'll be hitting the road again this spring and not slowing down for a while. Shannon will be joining me to play a few old songs, but we'll be focusing on playing some new songs we've never played before and sharing some cool news with you guys about the future. We'll be adding a few more shows in the next week, but be sure to grab a ticket and spread the word if we're coming near you! All ticket links can be found HERE

DATES:
3/23 - Murray Hill Theatre - Jacksonville, FL
4/18 - Funhouse at Mr Smalls - Millvale, PA
4/19 - TBA - Philadelphia, PA
4/20 - Southside Arts &. Music Fest - Bethlehem, PA
4/21 -  Folklore Coffee - Elizabethtown, PA
4/22 - Ross Farms - Basking Ridge, NJ
4/23 - TBA - Charlotte, NC
4/24 - TBA - Greenville, SC
4/25 - Smith's Olde Bar - Atlanta, GA
4/26 - TBD -  Somewhere in TN
4/27 - TBD - Somewhere in TN
4/28 - Joe's Java - Wilmington, OH
4/29 - Embers - Rensselaer, IN
5/1 - Arrow Coffee Company - Manhattan, KS
5/3 - House Show - La Crosse, WI
5/4 - Elbo Room - Chicago, IL
5/5 - House Show - Warsaw, IN