There is really only one way to restore a world that is dying and in disrepair: to make beauty where ugliness has set in. By beauty, I don’t mean a superficial attractiveness, though the word is commonly used in this way. Beauty is a loveliness admired in its entirety, not just at face value. The beauty I’m referring to is metabolized grief. It includes brokenness and fallibility, and in so doing, conveys for us something deliciously real.
And he came to understand that the burial of the broken wasn’t eccentric — this was what people did every day, stuffing their brokenness down, pushing it down, smoothing the surface over, making the surface look like nothing was broken underneath. Because, if people see that you are broken, they will not want to stand with you. They will migrate away from you the way groups of people walking down the street will move aside when a shambling ranting man approaches. They will look at the ground and look away so that such a person becomes invisible.
We all have cracks and tears and shattered glass within our souls. Some have more than others. We do not wish to seek one who has none; but we wish to find the one who can say “look at me, look at this.” We wish to find the one who sees every bit of broken glass and who will put those pieces into the palms of our hands and say “please keep them.” And we wish to be that kind of person, too. This is how it should be.
“Did you ever notice that all machines are made for some reason?” he asked Isabelle. “They are built to make you laugh, like the mouse here, or to tell the time, like clocks, or to fill you with wonder like the automaton. Maybe that’s why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn’t able to do what it was made to do.” Isabelle picked up the mouse, wound it again, and set it down. “Maybe it’s the same with people,” Hugo continued. “If you lose your purpose…it’s like you’re broken.”