By Sacinandana Swami
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on one end of the pole he carried across the back of 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, the cracked pot arrived only half full. This went on every day for two years, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his master’s house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishment and saw itself as perfectly suited for the purpose for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its 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 as 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?”
“For the past two years, I have been able 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 work without getting the full value of your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and out of 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 wildflowers on the side of the path. The pot felt cheered.
But at the end of the trail, the pot still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and again it apologized 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 knew about your flaw and 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 me. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. If you were not just the way you are, he would not have such beauty to grace his house.
For the majority of my life I have heard this story every year at a martial arts camp, and it has always tugged on my heart. However, the older and sicker I get, the more it speaks to me.
Tonight, as I sat here trying to write the quintessential “Happy Thanksgiving!” post, I just couldn’t do it. I’m thankful, really truly I am, for so many things…I’m just feeling like a cracked pot right now.
It’s been a hard few weeks, I’ve been in a lot of pain and spending a lot of time in the “deep dark lyme place” of sad emotions. I’ve had a lot of stuff going wrong with my heart, which I will write about one of these days when I have energy for that, that make me very stressed and angry.
Last weekend I had a flat tire on my car, so I set out to change it. I’d never done that before, but I knew technically how it should be done. With my sister’s help to lift things I managed it…and then was miserable for 3 whole days afterward. I just wanted to be able to do something for myself, to know that I could take care of myself in an emergency…and I did it, but I really should not have. I want to be able to do normal people things without hurting myself or feeling so sick I want to die.
I don’t want to feel like this anymore, I don’t want to be in pain anymore. I don’t want to be this sad person. I used to feel like a strong person, like I could cope with anything and still be a happy, positive person…not anymore. I’m angry that lyme and this pain have taken that away from me.
“When I was treating aids, none of the patients wanted to die, yet they did. Now, treating Lyme, the patients want to die because of the pain, but they usually can’t…Lyme takes you to the edge of death and leaves you there” Dr Jemsek.
Dr Jemseck gets it. That is exactly how I feel lately.
So tonight I will read the story of the cracked pot, and try to remind myself that I am simply a cracked pot and that somewhere there are flowers that I will be able to water with my flaws.