The cracked pitcher

By Paulo Coelho

An Indian legend tells of a man who used to carry water every day to his village, using two large pitchers tied on either end of a piece of wood, which he placed across his shoulders.
One of the pitchers was older than the other and was full of small cracks; every time the man came back along the path to his house, half of the water was lost.
For two years, the man made the same journey. The younger pitcher was always very proud of the way it did its work and was sure that it was up to the task for which it had been created, while the other pitcher was mortally ashamed that it could carry out only half its task, even though it knew that the cracks were the result of long years of work.
So ashamed was the old pitcher that, one day, while the man was preparing to fill it up with water from the well, it decided to speak to him.
‘I wish to apologise because, due to my age, you only manage to take home half the water you fill me with, and thus quench only half the thirst awaiting you in your house.’
The man smiled and said:
‘When we go back, be sure to take a careful look at the path.’
The pitcher did as the man asked and noticed many flowers and plants growing along one side of the path.
‘Do you see how much more beautiful nature is on your side of the road?’ the man remarked. ‘I knew you had cracks, but I decided to take advantage of them. I sowed vegetables and flowers there, and you always watered them. I’ve picked dozens of roses to decorate my house, and my children have had lettuce, cabbage and onions to eat. If you were not the way you are, I could never have done this. We all, at some point, grow old and acquire other qualities which can always be turned to good advantage.’

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  1. Anna Villaflor says:

    I love this story. All of us with our own uniqueness makes a difference in the world.

  2. Marie-Christine says:

    sounds like the Garden of Eden….

  3. wanbliska says:

    The carrier porter should seem to be the wise man. Cause noone but he, shows the old pitcher, he’s still lessons to learn.
    Indeed old does not mean wise. It’d be seen now in our world…

    The old pitcher is more occupated in getting sad, by his old age, believing he’s close to inability. But in where he took from breaches, grows flowers and vegetables!

    For the carrier porter comforts him. As everything done with Heart, can’t be a fail.
    Perfection and imperfection are relative, to the way we know how to see them.

    Thanks Paulo.

  4. Carmen Larisa says:

    I simply love this Indian story of the cracked jar and its hidden merits! :-)
    I have heard it first at Sahaja Yoga meditation classes and I believe it has a profound meaning. In a way or another, we are all “cracked jars,” we all have “cracks,” flaws and make mistakes. This is not the point, we are human beings after all, not angels, but the fact that from something considered a tragedy, many blessings may appear.
    I believe that suffering can unite souls and give us the necessary force to go on, to comfort a stranger and also a friend, as we are all united, especially in times of need.
    A “crack” may be the right impulse for a change for the better, when you re-organize your whole world and change your mentality! Good often comes in disguise and a “crack” may be the motive for searching perfection! :0)
    May God bless the whole world with Compassion, Light and Understanding now and forever!

    Many hugs, appreciation and love,
    Carmen Larisa

  5. Joël says:

    Mostly we forget to look to our own beautifull
    talents and we are so focused to other persons, that we forget what we are.
    You can not compare yourself with other persons
    everybody has other talents.That makes us unique.

  6. A.V.C. says:

    What is first perceived as a flaw, turns out to be an advantage.

    Or in other words, everything is as it should be – always. It is just a little difficult to see sometimes.

  7. Tania says:

    Of course the man smiled as he knew both pitchers had a job to do,old or cracked ,young and full ,God still has beautiful qualities in all his creations.Be who you are ..Blessings Tania

  8. Anna Villaflor says:

    I love this story. All of us with our own uniqueness makes a difference in the world.

  9. agnieszka says:


    If we could have these eyes
    to see,
    If we could have this heart
    to feel,
    we could find..
    we could heal the world.

    Thank You,