kilnWhere will you be when your beloved teapot shatters to bits? Or when a prized cup is united with the floor? What will you feel?

Although the hard ceramic of teaware is quite a far cry from fur or skin, I’m sure you’ll agree that your favorite mug, pot, or gaiwan is as soothing as a cherished pet in your hands. A gentle curl of steam wafting, a finger-warming sensation, a certain reassuring weight: these are the barks and wags of your teaware.

This is why losing a piece hurts so much, despite that, in reality, it is often the loss of a simple clay (or glass or whathaveyou) vessel. From an objective perspective, dismay is certainly a realistic response to losing an inanimate object, but not despair. Dismay is a temporary realization of inconvenience, the realization that “the tool is lost”. Despair is a lasting reflection on how much worse the present and future are compared to the past. We’re not robots, temporarily affected by loss, but why do we care about inanimate objects? We can break a nice plate and say “oh, well”, but then break an eighty-nine cent thrift store mug and think of it for days.

Personally, I find this an example of the indescribable things that make life worth living. Tea itself is one of them. It’s just leaf-water produced by complicated techniques to taste a certain way, but why does it satisfy so much more than taste?

There are solutions to shattered pottery. The most elegant way is the Japanese “Kintsugi” technique, which glues together cracks with urushi resin and covers the resin with a gold mixed resin. The finished product is beautiful and resiny. You can incorporate the broken pieces into a mosaic. Or you can take my personal favorite method, which is to simply let the cup go. For trying to repair a broken cup risks trying to restore the past, rather than observing the present. Trying to un-crack the past is like trying to put together a hatched egg: not really possible, potentially frustrating, and likely you’ll forget to eat lunch.

Image provided by the author.