I wish I could find the origin of this story. Some say it’s Chinese, but the majority say it’s Indian folklore. As far as I can tell, the author is unknown.
I initially came across this story on Quora and decided to do some quick research. The version of the story below can be found here.
The Story of the Cracked Pot
“A water bearer in India 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 in 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.’
The bearer asked, ‘Why? What are you ashamed of?’
The pot replied, ‘For these past two years I am able to deliver only half of 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 don’t get full value for your efforts.’
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.’
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 somewhat. 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.'”
Editing Your Purpose
Flaws and weaknesses are natural parts of life. There are at least a couple different ways to view them.
You can choose to see the beauty in your flaws like the Japanese art of kintsugi (see images here):
I think of the small choices we make daily. I think of how we can choose to kintsugi our circumstance. — Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow
Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all. — Nathan W. Morris
You can check out more simple stories here.
Also published on Medium.