This story guided me in opening my private practice. I’d love to hear what it evokes for you.
A water carrier in India had two large clay pots that hung from opposite ends of a pole he carried across his shoulders. One of the carrier’s pots had a crack in it. The other pot was perfect and always arrived after the long walk from the stream to the master’s house full of the precious water. The cracked pot, on the other hand, arrived only half full, and as a result, the water carrier always delivered one full pot and one half pot of water.
The perfect pot was proud of its ability to fulfill the purpose for which it had been made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection, and miserable that it could only fulfill part of the purpose it had been made for.
After two years of bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water carrier, saying, “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” “Why?” asked the water carrier. “What are you ashamed of?” “I deliver only half my load. The crack in my side lets water leak onto the ground as you carry me to your master’s house. So you don’t get the full value of your efforts because of my flaw.”
The water carrier felt very sorry for the old cracked pot and he said, “As we return to the master’s house today, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Then he trudged up the hill with the two pots across his shoulders. For the first time, the cracked pot noticed the beautiful wildflowers along the path and they cheered it immensely.
When they reached the master’s house, the water carrier said to the pot, “Did you notice the flowers on your side of the path, and how there were none on the perfect pot’s side? I have always known of your flaw, and I took advantage of it by planting flower seeds. I knew that, as we walked back from the stream, you would water them. And, for two years now, I have picked these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without your being just the way you are, he would not have had this beauty to grace his house.”
This story exemplifies how I feel about my clients’ view of their perceived imperfections. What feels like a struggle or a flaw in many cases is also a source of strength and even a gift to others. Helping clients find the gifts in their pain is healing and empowering for them.
There are also situations in which no gifts can be found. The healing balm for these experiences is in having someone hear your story, feel the pain with you (empathy) and continue to love and accept you. It’s also powerful to hear other people share their story and know you’re not alone.
I believe every human is the “cracked pot” in this story~ even if disguised as the “perfect pot”. We ALL have imperfect parts of ourselves we try to hide. Letting yourself fully be seen (even by just one safe person) is one of the most COURAGEOUS, healing & liberating acts possible.