By Shan O'Connor:
As this year continues on, many of us are feeling the heavy weight of depression as this COVID-19 pandemic drags on and civil unrest continues across the country. Those that struggle with this and other conditions such as anxiety have found this time to be exceptionally difficult due to loneliness, social isolation, feelings of being powerless and helplessness.
Being alone with nothing but one’s thoughts can be a harrowing experience, even for those who have no history of mental health disorders.
Long periods of negativity as we’ve seen these last few months, and isolated self-reflection as the lockdown and social distancing continues, can lead to feeling hopeless, dysphoric, and broken. However, with the despair the pandemic and these challenging times can also be a time for healing, growth, and self-improvement. This is the category I put myself into, and as a writer, I wanted to find a way to articulate these feelings. Poetry has always been a sort of therapy for me, a catharsis.
So, I picked up my pen and began to write, inspired by an ancient Japanese art known as kintsugi, or kintsukuroi, which is the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas that have broken with a lacquer mixed with powdered gold.
Silver or platinum is also sometimes used. It signifies that there is a beauty in healing the broken and showcases each piece’s uniqueness by placing emphasis on the cracks and fractures rather than hiding them. I happen to believe this can be compared to people who feel damaged and who manage to piece themselves together during the most difficult of times through strength, hope, and perseverance. The poem to follow is meant to encapsulate this as it relates to the human struggle.
There is a comforting familiarity in the darkness.
Some shrink from it in distress to seek the light, with its golden promise of splendor. I have found a peace and solace in the warm embrace of the shadows.
Once lost to the engulfing despair in the dark recesses of my mind, I learned to fight my innermost fiercest battles there.
A test of self. A test of will. Myself against me. My confidence against crippling self-doubt. Invincibility against vulnerability. Success against personal failure.
The weight of it all threatening to internally shatter and crush me, leaving my insides broken like so many pieces of fragile porcelain.
Each crack a deep, painful wound, and my sense of self falling to pieces, a crumbled ruin.
In the grips of this melancholy into the abyss I crawl, not to hide but to heal. To rebuild from nothing, grasping for a single golden thread of light to piece myself back together in the blackness.
There is a mastery in the ability to turn pain to art. Suffering to beauty. Destruction into reconstruction.
There is a strength in the ability to turn sorrow to joy, to see that faint glimmer of golden light peek through the darkest stage of the twilight of the mind.
So many of us know this battle and fight it daily. What it means to awaken still exhausted from the fight the day before. An exhaustion that yearns for peace not rest.
Each of us is our own version of a beautiful disaster turned masterpiece.
Each of us strewn together by threads of our own making.
Those glints of fragile gold, mastering that art of turning pain to beauty through perseverance and strength of will.
Each one of us fighting our own internal battles.
Each one of us warriors and survivors.
Each one of us made more opulent by those broken bits.
Each one of us all works in progress.
Each one of us in various stages of golden repair.
Shan O'Connor is an American freelance writer hailing from southern Louisiana and currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona. She is an environmental and political activist who enjoys sustainable cooking, H.E.M.A. combat and sword training, and all things literary with a passion for fantasy/horror fiction.