Thursday, November 21, 2013
The Cracked Jar - Transforming Perspective
A water bearer had two large pots; each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. ”I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” ”Why?” asked the bearer. ”What are you ashamed of?”
”I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, ”As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, ”Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
We are all cracked pots. None of us is perfect, yet many of us feel that our cracks are bigger than everyone else's. It's so easy to be self-critical and it can be quite difficult to turn off the negative chatter inside our heads. This simple little story illustrates in no uncertain terms that our perceived weaknesses may be our strengths.
If you are inspired take a moment and think about those aspects of yourself that you perceive as "cracks". As you do so rather than letting the familiar negative talk take over your thoughts let yourself find creative ways that your "crack" or weakness has been of benefit to you. For example a crack may be that you have a quick temper. Rather than dwelling on the negative aspects of having a quick temper focus on the positives, like, because of my quick temper I have been able to stand up for myself and others.
This is not to say that we should stop striving to improve and to grow but that in learning to embrace our perceived weaknesses as also being aspects of our strengths we learn to love and respect ourselves more completely.
Let's celebrate our cracks!