January is like opening day in baseball -we can all go to the World Series. We start with a “clean slate.” In reality, we bring all our baggage into each new year. With the wisdom of age I’ve accepted that of course, I have baggage- but it’s cute and it matches.
“There is a tale of an elderly Chinese woman who had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water; while the cracked pot arrived only half full.
The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, one day it spoke to the woman, '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, 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?' 'That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.' 'For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'
Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that makes is who we are.”
Shame drives “never good enough” and keeps us from connection which is why we’re here. We can’t appear vulnerable so we can’t be authentic - we cover our flaws instead of embracing them. According to Brené Brown, PhD, a leading researcher on shame we need the courage to be imperfect. With age we can make fools of ourselves and do it with enthusiasm - we’ve done it so many times by now.
I’m reminded of the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s poem “Anthem”
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack, in everything
That's how the light gets in
So, to my crackpot friends, have a happy new year and remember to notice the “flowers on your side of the path!”