With the Chinese New Year—the Year of the Golden Rabbit—coming on February 3rd…
…it seemed appropriate to share this old proverbial Chinese folk tale about a leaking water pot…
A tale especially meaningful to me…
…as I work to patch my own flaws…
…which often seems like a useless endeavor, since I keep finding more and more of them…
…and so, keep feeling my leakage.
However, I know I’m not alone. I see people leaking everywhere I go…
…but also see so many of them planting seeds…
…though they often miss the beauty that their loss creates.
I hope you enjoy the story:
Every day of every week, a poor, old country woman had to draw her water from a well a long way away from her little home.
She carried this water in two large pots. One pot hung at the right end of a long pole suspended across her shoulders. And one pot hung at left end of the pole.
However, the pot on the left had a small crack. Water leaked slowly from this crack on the woman’s way home. So when she finally arrived back at her humble abode, that pot was only half full.
This routine continued for two years. Every day, the woman would arrive home with one pot filled with water and one—the one on the left end of the pole—only half full.
Unbeknownst to most of us, such things as pots have feelings. Thus, the full pot felt quite pleased with its accomplishment—it had never leaked a single drop.
On the other hand, the half-full pot felt ashamed—ashamed of its imperfection, ashamed that the poor old woman had to suffer because of all the water it lost.
Finally, after two years, the pot spoke to the woman as she fitted its cord to the left end of the pole. The pot spoke, just as many of the things around us—things that may appear inanimate—can speak, if we’re only willing to listen.
“I feel such shame,” the pot moaned. “This break in my side allows half of the water to leak out. I’ve done poor service for you! Please—toss me on the trash heap!”
The old woman just smiled and stroked the side of the pot, stroked the small place where the pot had cracked.
“Haven’t you ever seen the flowers beside our path?” the old woman asked the pot. “Did you ever notice how the flowers only grow on your side of the path?
“When I saw the flaw in you, I decided to plant seeds for flowers on the left side. Every day, as we walk back, you slowly give water to those flowers.
“That’s why I always have beautiful flowers for my table, for my solitary room. It’s because of you. Without your leak, I wouldn’t have such flowers to comfort me, to give my house the joy of beauty.”
So, next time someone suggests that you’re “cracked”, you might answer, “Yes—fortunately.”
© 2011, Michael R. Patton
sky rope poetry