On the Value of Brokenness

January 13, 2012 § 2 Comments


When two friends from very different circles send you a link to the same, relatively obscure article within days of each other, you know that either: (1) you’ve gotten to be very predictable, or (2) the universe is trying to tell you something.

In my case, both are probably accurate.

At any rate, for those of you who have the time and the inclination, you can read the full article at http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/06/why-being-broken-in-a-pile-on-your-bedroom-floor-is-a-good-idea-julie-jc-peters/. (One day, I will figure out how to insert links into my blog posts in infinitely more attractive ways.)

The article’s title—Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea—is a mouthful, but gets the point across in a compellingly quirky way. There are lots of memorable passages, but I’ll just quote the ones below:

The thing about going through sudden or scary or sad transitions…is that one of the things you lose is your future: your expectations of what the story of your life so far was going to become. When you lose that partner or that job or that person, your future dissolves in front of you.

And of course, this is terrifying.

But look, Akhilanda says, now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?

And yes, I know, there’s a tremendous (and rapidly growing) amount of self-help literature on treasuring our frailties and cherishing our vulnerabilities, but what I love about this article (written by a Julie Peters) is how it shows that this appreciation is apparently not a Winfrey-induced, contemporary phenomenon. Recognizing the value of our brokenness is apparently a tradition enshrined in nothing less than the figure of a Hindu goddess called Akhilandeshvari (the Goddess of Never Not Broken). Trust the Hindus to find the kookiest and most offbeat deities.

At any rate, I’ve got a new idol. If only I could pronounce her name.

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