June 18 • 09:08 AM

Official member of cracked pot club

December 12, 2018
In the ever evolving quest for self-acceptance and enlightenment, there are moments when the perfect message arrives at the perfect time. This is the kind of perfection that's attainable, though it cannot be crafted by human hands. As a recovering perfectionist I realize that to be human is to be flawed. The trick is to embrace those flaws. To make the most of them, to reach toward acceptance and to look for the gift.

Sometimes I don't have to look very far at all, as is the case with the following story. I hear it while listening to another of Italian American author Jen Sincero's 'You are a Bad#$%' books and am immediately drawn in. I wonder why I'd never heard this story before—an ancient story with a timeless message. It is the story of the cracked pot, and here it is:

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots. Each pot hung on the ends of a pole, which she carried across her shoulders. Every day, she used this device to carry water to her home.

One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. The other had a deep crack in it and leaked. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this situation occurred daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the woman one day by the stream, saying, "I am ashamed of myself because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."

The old woman smiled and replied, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walked back home you watered them and made them grow. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table and give to my friends and neighbors. Without you being just the way you are, there would not have been this special beauty to grace our homes and lives."

I'm liking this quite a bit. The cracked pot club is a big one, as the gift of being human brings imperfections. Sometimes, those imperfections lead to beautiful and surprising things, like hearing the perfect story at the perfect time and embracing the flaws that make us all unique.

This reminds me of the ancient Japanese practice of kintsukuroi, which is repairing a broken ceramic item by filling in the cracks with gold. Rather than hide or toss out the broken object, the gold-filled cracks make it more beautiful and refined, unique with the random and irregular patterns that were created when the object broke into pieces. It is also known as "the art of precious scars."

And so, once again these stories that survive the test of time bring a timeless message.

Acceptance is beauty, and we are all beautiful exactly as we are.

Email Catherine at

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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