The cracked jar

By Paulo Coelho

An Indian legend tells of a man who carried water to his village every day, in two large jars tied to the ends of a wooden pole, which he balanced on his back.

One of the jars was older than the other, and had some small cracks; every time the man covered the distance to his house, half of the water was lost.

For two years, the man made the same journey. The younger jar was always very proud of its performance, safe in the knowledge that it was up to the mission it had been made for, while the other jar was mortified with shame at only fulfilling half of its allotted task, even though it knew that those cracks were the result of many years hard work.

It was so ashamed that one day, while the man got ready to fetch water from the well, it decided to speak to him:

– I want to apologize, but because of the many years of service, you are only able to deliver half of my load, and quench half of the thirst which awaits you at your home.

The man smiled, and said:

– When we return, observe carefully the path.

And so it did. And the jar noticed that, on its side, many flowers and plants grew.

– See how nature is more lovely on your side? – commented the man. – I always knew you were cracked, and decided to make use of this fact. I planted flowers and vegetables, and you have always watered them. I have picked many roses to decorate my house with, I have fed my children with lettuce, cabbage and onions. If you were not as you are, how could I have done that?

“All of us, at some point, grow old and start to acquire other qualities. We can always make the most of each one of these new qualities and obtain a good result.”

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  1. zeinab says:

    This is really true about human beings, at each stage of their life there should be a role that no one can play but the meant person. Growing old does not mean standing a side and observing or even watching. No matter how old one grows, they have their own IMPORTANT role in life….

  2. gerald calimbas says:

    this is not the original story right??? I already read the original….Can you help me find the name of the original author and the original story of the cracked water jar????please….I need to know who he is…bec. this story is very important to me….thanks……please contact me…

  3. Pam says:

    As a grown up I find that shame really hinders me and the way I feel about myself and my acceptance with friends and family. This story brought tears to my eyes. I sort of felt like the little cracked pot and knew that even though I have had “cracks” for many years that I do good and I am good. I was so judged @ one time in my life and it caused such horrible changes and now that shame is just always underlying. I will treasure this story. It comes @ a time when that shame has resurfaced and it bothers me. This story will give me strength.

  4. Marie-Christine says:

    it’s a good analogy, I like that.

  5. vicky says:

    just a thought…
    a wrinkled face with a nourished soul

    Dear Annie,
    A warm thank you. Such a nice thing you wrote..

    Lots of love,

  6. Carmen Larisa says:

    I simply love Indian stories and this one in particular! It is one of my favourites because it reminds us that there is always something good about us, even though it is so evident that we have some cracks :-) God loves us the way we are inside our hearts and knowing our potential for love, gives us many chances to evolve.
    People are used to noticing only what goes wrong, but what about what goes right in the whole world? Bad things are more aggressive, more visible indeed, but good things are happening all the time, in a more discreet manner, lights are being lit inside our hearts and minds every single day. I guess that a cracked jar definitely has charm as long as it waters the land to have beautiful flowers and implicitely, good deeds!
    God wants to transform this world for the better infinitely more than we do, I am convinced, because of the pure love! That is why, God still believes in us, even when we cease to see our good parts, God respects the Light in us, while we are distracted only by the darkness.
    Love simply is! :-)

    Lots of hugs and appreciation,
    Carmen Larisa

  7. Agnieszka says:

    Dear Liara Covert,

    Beautiful, what you wrote.


  8. Liara Covert says:

    This story encourages us all to make the best of where we are, no matter what our conditions. We each have skills and talents as well as intrinsic value. We also underestimate the blessings in our lives and how much pleasure we bring to other human beings just being who we are.

  9. nicole says:

    That’s a wonderful story!
    Sigh :)

  10. Caoimhin says:

    A wonderful story for the heart!

  11. Agnieszka says:

    Hmm…everything what we are caring inside our heart, whether it is love, strength, our passion for adventure,.. our restless heart can handle.
    Those forces living inside us can drive us to the extreme, but they can also give us sense of serenity.
    Everything is in our power.
    And funny thing is, we actually let this happen, we are the magicians of our world, we…enjoy whatever comes to us somehow, the love, the joy, the excitement, and even the pain, the sorrow. We let the river to take us with its current. Why?
    Because it makes us…full.
    Full of emotions, full of incredible, unforgettable feelings.
    It makes us simply…alive.

    Nobody is perfect and everybody is perfect, if we only let it.


  12. Zuleyka Sanchez says:

    beautiful story, it cheers me up, we are perfectly unperfect… :)

  13. Alexandra says:

    one of the most beautiful short each of us lies more qualties .some of them are more obvious than others,but maybe not the most important.some times i need comfort,and you,dear writer,now you were comforting always you are great,love

  14. Karen says:

    ps. What I have learned is to be nothing like the people I have recently met!

  15. Karen says:

    You can learn much more from worthless, scum of the earth people than you can from anyone else. At least I know I have! Few and far between have morals.

  16. Agnieszka says:

    “..We can always make the most of each one of these new qualities and obtain a good result.”

    Yes…I hope that with all the love, all the light we have we still can..make this life more beautiful, full of magical moments.