Kintsukuroi: To "repair with gold"; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver to understand that the piece is more beautiful for have being broken.

You are already perfect.

The Japanese have two very beautiful philosophies that have intrigued me lately. Not the kind of ‘intrigued’ one becomes because of knowing something to be weird or absurd, but more because it isn’t.

The two philosophies are:

  • wabi-sabi (侘寂 – acceptance of transience and imperfection) and,
  • kintsugi (金継ぎ – golden joinery, or kintsukoroi 金繕い – golden repair)

These two are quite intrinsically linked, wabi-sabi being the over-arching philosophy that kintsugi is an act of.

Kintsugi is the act of repairing a damaged or broken item with gold lacquer, symbolising that something can become more beautiful for having been broken.

A Japanese Tea bowl fixed in the Kintsugi method

A Japanese Tea bowl fixed in the Kintsugi method

The beauty of this philosophy is that it finds very little beauty in perfect things, something we have been taught to love in modern western society. A tattered well read book is more beautiful than perfect one on the shelf, an asymmetrical forest is more wondrous than one of planted rows of pine.

Wabi-Sabi accepts change for what it is, and embraces imperfection.

Though what I found most intriguing is this kintsugi philosophy treats all imperfections, breakages, and cracks as merely an event in the life of the object rather than it being the end of the objects service, instead it chooses to highlight the cracks that symbolise its service rendered.

In life, I have always tried to be perfect. The perfect son, friend, lover, brother, or simply person. I have always failed at these by my own standards because perfection is such an elusive and unobtainable thing. Also, with my work of helping people live better lives, I am often faced with people who are struggling with accepting themselves and their imperfections. It’s difficult trying to show them the beauty of themselves when they keep pointing at the cracks.

You are already perfect, this has to be one of the most important lessons I could have learned or taught in my life.

We all go through difficult times in life.
We suffer heartaches and heart-breaks, yet we live.
We lose people we love, sometimes by distance, other times by death.
We get hurt by those we love, and we hurt from hurting the ones we love.
We are sometimes placed in extremely difficult situations.
We are sometimes in a place where it seems there is no way out.

But we live, we repair and we are here. I would never trade any of the pain and hardships I have had in life for a simpler life. Those pains have transformed me into the man I am today, and I might say, I quite like who I am and who I am yet to become.

Pain shapes and transforms you.
There is beauty in the broken. (tweet this)
May you find your best imperfections.

Eternal Smiles, Leo Gopal

Image credit: Lynnreck of Deviantart

9 Lessons To My Son in Respecting and Treating Women

At the time of writing this, I am not a father nor do I know if I will ever have a son.

But the world has mistreated, looked down upon, and disrespected woman for centuries and changing that is the duty of men, especially Fathers. This is a few lessons to our sons in treating woman the way they are born to be treated, with love, respect and dignity.

 


 

My Dear Son,

You will one-day become a man but the kind of man you become will be judged on how you treat others, especially woman.

I do not yet know if you are attracted to woman or men, but whatever it may be, most of these still apply. I want you to show the world that chivalry is not dead. Show them that it is still quite possible to be a gentlemen that is courteous, caring, kind, respectful, and appreciative of woman. Your mom will be proud, as will I my son.

Here are your lessons in treating a woman; your Random Acts of Knightness:

Lesson 1: She is your Equal

Always know that she is your Equal. Always treat her as your equal and never look down upon her. You will need her just as much as she needs you, and just because she may need help lifting things does not mean she is any less than you are.

You will soon find that it is her beautiful heart and mind that drives you, and that is where she is strongest, and possibly stronger than you are. But, remember my Son, no matter how amazing she is (and she will be), you are no lesser than her.

Lesson 2: She is someones daughter or sister

Firstly, respect her the way you would like your own mother or sister to be respected. If you are to do something in anyway (arguments, etc.) that you wouldn’t want her Father, Mother, Brother or Sister to find out because you may look bad, don’t do it.

Secondly, Love and Respect her family as your own. If you treat them like you treat us, like your own parents, they will treat you and love you like their own son. Her siblings are your own, if she has a little sister, she is also your little sister, a big brother is also your big brother.

Lastly, Love her truly and honestly. Love her in such a way that will make her Dad proud and her Mom jealous.

Lesson 3: Never try to change her

She exists with you, but not for you.

Let her be the wonderful woman she is, and not something you wish to change to suit you.

You should be beside her to love her as she is, the most perfect version of her, and to empower her to grow as she needs.

She will do a lot for you, changing who she is should not be one of them, and you should always show appreciation for all the things she does for you.

Lesson 4: She always comes first

Life will try and get in your way. Studies may get demanding, work may get stressful, friends may want your presence, no matter what occurs in your life – she always comes first and needs to feel it from you.

This also applies to making love.

Lesson 5: Make her feel secure

You need to assist her in feeling secure; both emotionally and physically.

The media portrays a beautiful woman in increasingly unrealistic and edited standards. She is a woman of flesh and not an edited version of perverted beauty. Look at her as if she is the most beautiful thing on Earth (she is).

Do not ogle other woman, not even in her absence. You are allowed to appreciate the beauty that is the existence of others, but your desire is for her alone. Quit watching porn. Don’t flirt with other woman (or guys).

Avoid being jealous, trust her.

Let her know and feel that she is enough, you do not need more than her and more does not exist.

Lesson 6: Be her friend

Be there for her when she needs you.

You do not always need to say anything. When she is upset, hold her.

When she is speaking to you, genuinely listen.

Communicate well, communicate often. Talk about how you both truly feel and leave little to guessing.

When she says nothing is wrong and she doesnt want to talk about it, be there waiting, she will talk and she needs you to listen.

Ask her what she needs, deliver.

Lesson 7: Raise your words

You should endeavour to Raise your words, not your voice (or worse, your hands).

Raising your hands to a woman is unforgivable. I trust you never to do it.

Be gentle and caring with your words. Be Honest.

Your words should be equivalent to promises, keep your word, keep your promises.

All important things are to be said in person. Say ‘I Love You’ only if you mean it.

Apologise when you are wrong. See things from her point of view.

Lesson 8: Small things count.

The small things you do for her will count the most. Call her when you say you will. Open the door for her. Give her your jacket if she is cold. Pay for the date if you can (but not to show masculinity, but just out of consideration to her). Offer her your arm, especially if she is walking in heels. Stand when she enters the room. Be a Gentlemen. Give her gifts of time and attention.

Lesson 9: Don’t Change.

Do not be prince charming simply to gain her love and affection (or her body).

Do not take her for granted and stop making the effort.

Do not be one person in public and with friends and a different person to her alone.

Always be the person she knows and loves.

 

These are the basics, son. I have faith you will be a better man than I ever was.

Love, Your Dad.

 

Why Long Distance Relationships Do Not Last

Long distance relationships don’t work.

That is what I have been told all my life. Family friends who have tried relatively long-distant relationships when I was just a kid and then growing up to be old enough to have friends in the situation of having a long-distance relationship of their own.

It even became an acceptable answer for the demise of relationships:

“Why did your relationship end?”

“Long-distance, Didn’t work out”, came the response.

Even worse was that it became a valid excuse to give up on relationships:

“I’m sorry, but I think we should break up…”

“Why?”

“The distance”

“Ok!”

That is highly simplistic, but you get the picture.

With the advancement of technology which enables further, quicker and more affordable travel as well as better, wider, more constant and affordable communication – getting into long-distance relationships has become easier, common-place and some might say “mainstream”.

It was Oscar Wilde who said: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” which I like paraphrasing into:

“Give a man a mask and you shall see his true face” – Me

I learned the truth in this thinking at quite a young age. Plagued with chronic shyness, social apprehension and a runaway stutter – I used the advent of instant messenger services to be the me I wanted people to see. I was confident, funny, witty, smart and a go-getter with absent inhibition behind the screen – the opposite of who you would meet face-to-face.

This has become true for so many people, not just the socially awkward like me. However, Wildes Mask Theory can give rise to the extreme opposite where the wearer becomes that which they are not.

Technology allows communication with our Masks on and many exploit this so as not to be seen as boring, silly or unintelligent (stupid, maybe).

The Result? People become unsustainable versions of themselves. They find a partner they are attracted to and get the attraction returned but one or both parties are not being genuine – ultimately they regress and its realised that the person I was attracted to is not really who I think they are, and so the relationship fails.

Thats just one of the initial and most common issues with the distance factor – I am not immune to this and have been plagued with being inauthentic for the sake of image.

Another reason for the mass failure of long-distance relationships is the lack of inhibition when in both starting a long distance relationship on impulse and ease and ending it from boredom or distraction. Its easy to start, its easy to end – so both are done often and with ease.

The next reason, which is a bit deeper than the others is that when people get into relationships that are closer and face-to-face with ease, they tend to distract themselves with the physical closeness of being together. They are terrible communicators which is essential for the success of any relationship – when communication is difficult, absent or awkward couples distract themselves with sex (which can often be argued as the most intimate form of communication, but even that is lost in translation).

For the couples who have communication issues and who enter into long-distance relationships, they are naked and exposed in their lacking with no access to their sexual distraction. They will either grow as a couple and become better communicators or they will use the distance as an excuse for their lack in communication.

Many couples with communication issues don’t discover their flaws until much later and often after the wedding vows are exchanged or the kids arrive. In cases like this, long-distance relationships behave like a very genius filter.

Its safe to say that communication is the most important part to the survival of any relationship. Great Communication.

Long Distance Relationships (I am saying this a lot, lets call it LDR) are not easy – but they are not impossible and often they yield better relationships. The reasons for this is multitudinous.

In the last few weeks I have been having immense difficulty coping with my relationship with Jade (she is 1800 km away).

I have not seen her for a few months and our recent timing has been horrific. She is currently writing who exams in honors for Psychology – she is doing two years in one year which is truly intense, but she is smart and determined and immensely capable. However, this means that she is spending a lot of the time that she used to spend chatting with me, studying – which I dont mind, but I do miss her and I totally understand.

In addition to that its the Month of Kartik, which for me (and very importantly for my dad) is a month long spiritual festival which I have traditionally spent with my dad going to the temple for a few hours every night – which (after a long day at the office) eats into potential time with Jade. My youngest sister (whom I havent seen in ten years) and my nephew (whom I’ve met for the first time) have visited for about 3 weeks, which is wonderful and brilliant, but this also means its an extra 3 weeks in which I am not travelling to see Jade as I will be sacrificing time with them – which Jade is beautifully kind and understanding about. But it is difficult being away from her for this long.

Needless to say, this time has been terribly difficult due mostly to the lack of visits and lack of communication and the stresses of life.

When Life gets in the way of living?

This has led to feelings of intense neediness with hints of desperation. Nightmares of losing her and her drifting apart from me which feel truly real as well as unfounded jealousy and paranoia. I have been plagued with thoughts of being boring and uninteresting which makes me fearful that she might just see the light, realise this and leave me or paranoia and jealous thoughts like seeing her online on facebook or whatsapp at times when we are hardly chatting or she is hardly replying (busy with work, or study groups) but dangerously makes me wonder who she is chatting to, what if its someone more interesting than me, what if she’s not replying much and giving short answers or just emoticons because I simply do not interest her anymore and maybe she is saving the “break-up” for face to face because she is a nice person.

But none of those are true and Jade is amazing, but the distance and unknowing does not stop me from thinking these things. Once this “busy period” is over we will be back to normal, but this is an intense learning curve in our relationship for both of us and has been a foundation builder as well.

This has also allowed me to realise that I have a lot of work to do with myself and my constant feeling of inadequacy which I project with my fears onto her. In every case “My” worries, stresses, fears are all me and not her but is projected as being her.

Long distance relationships do work, but they need the right ingredients of love, trust, communication and an end-plan (that which ends the long distance part in long distance relationship).

On Being A Husband

I probably wouldn’t be much of a father if I was not also a good husband to my wife, and mother of my kids.

I wrote a poem before to Mothers, but these are my promises to my future wife. (I am not married as of writing this).

My Dear Love,
Thus far, I probably haven’t been the best boyfriend I could be.
But you make me want to be a better me.
Not a better me for you, No. A Better Me for Me.
Thank you for loving me as I am. Unconditionally.

My Dear Love,
You are perfect.
Do not strive to be any different than the wonderful you that you are.
You ARE Perfect.
I promise to never try to change you.

My Dear Love,
You will change.
We all always change.
And when you do, I will love you as much now as I will then.
I will love you unconditionally.
I love you.

My Dear Love,
You are going to go through some tough times ahead.
I want you to know that I will always be there holding your hand.
I got your back.

My Dear Love,
I will never judge you.
So please feel free to make mistakes.
Follow your heart.

My Dear Love,
I will never forgive you again. I promise.
Forgiveness is an act that says that you did something wrong.
Forgiveness says that you have offended me.
‘Wrong’ and ‘Offence’ and things of Judgement.
I will not forgive and make them real.
Be who you are and I will love you so.
I love your honesty, never change that.

My Dear Love,
I will never raise my hand towards you.
Neither will I ever raise my voice at you.
I will never scold you or chastise you.
You are not a child that needs to be taught a lesson.
I will always let you know how I feel.
I will always speak to you with love.

My Dear Love,
Others may hurt you.
Others may make you not feel beautiful.
Others may make you feel not good enough.
I promise to do my best to never hurt you.
I promise to always make you feel beautiful as you are.
I promise to always allow you to know that you are perfect.
When you feel unworthy of love, I shall love you truly – always.

My Dear Love,
I promise to be a good Dad to our kids.
I promise to love your parents as my own.
I promise to keep my promises.

My Dear Love,
I am not perfect and I do make mistakes.
Please forgive me.
I Love You.

(to be continued)

On Being A Father

At the time of writing this, I am not a Dad.
But I really want to be one.
When I do become a Dad, these are my promises to my child.

My Dear Child,
Welcome to this world!
The first thing you should know is that you are loved.
You are always loved.
I Love You.

My Dear Child,
You are going to make mistakes. Thats wonderful and its okay!
Mistakes help us learn and I hope you make many.
I also hope you learn from the mistakes of others.
Especially my own.

My Dear Child,
Please do not try to be like me.
You are born to amazing and far better than I will ever be.
I want to be like you, so go on and be awesome.
You already are.

My Dear Child,
I am not perfect. Please forgive me.
I will strive to raise my love not my hand.
I will strive to raise my words not my voice.
I will strive to love you properly.
You are perfect.

My Dear Child,
The world will not always understand you.
The world will not always love you.
The world will not always be kind.
Do not let that change who you are and your divine heart.
I will always try and understand you, I will sometimes fail.
I will always love you, always.

My Dear Child,
I will respect your choices.
No matter what they are, they are yours and they are perfect.
I am here for you if they work out.
I am here for you if they do not.
I will never, ever tell you “I told you so.”

My Dear Child,
I will never rush you and tell you to “hurry up!”
Time is limited yet it does not exist.
I will not make you a slave of time.
Although my time is limited, I will give as much of mine to you as you need.

My Dear Child,
When you need me, I will be there.
When you bruise your knee or scratch your elbow.
When you get teased or lose your first ‘friend’.
When you get your heart broken for the first time.
When you’re under pressure and stress.
When you feel alone.
Whenever you need me, I will be there.
I may not always offer you the best words.
But I promise the best comforting silence.

My Dear Child,
I will not always be there.
One day it will be time to give up this mortal form.
When that day comes, it will feel too soon.
It will always feel too soon.
My Dear Child – when that day comes,
I pray and I hope that I was a good Dad.
I hope that I would’ve given you everything I could have.
I wish you nothing but happiness.
And, one day when you become a parent – be better than me.

I Love You,
Your Dad