A rabbit, a cracked pot and a Japanese art form

Right, before you hightail it off in pursuit of perfection, trying to achieve the perfect weight, physique, look, or maybe find the perfect relationship, house or career simply because it’s the start of a brand new year, can we take a moment to think this through? Do you have some time to spare?

I have yet to meet anyone whose pursuit of perfection has made them happy.

I think it’s time we started challenging the idea that our aim in all we should be, do and have is “perfection”. I have yet to meet anyone whose pursuit of perfection has made them happy. Have you? No? I didn’t think so.

Here’s what I think, we pursue perfection because we’ve been brought up to believe that imperfection (and let’s face it we’re all imperfect in our own way) is “less than”, is lacking in some way, is not acceptable and is ultimately “not fit for purpose”. So let’s take a look at a few examples where this just isn’t true.


I’d like to introduce you to the Japanese art form of Kintsugi.  In Japan, rather than throw away a broken pot, cup or bowl it is repaired using gold to bond the pieces together. In this way the broken pot becomes more beautiful and valuable than it was before, and is totally unique.

Sometimes we too can feel broken by life’s experiences. Our trust in all that’s good can be fractured and is never quite the same afterwards. These fractures and breaks become part of your unique experience, and add to, rather than take away from who you are.

Kintsugi – the art of resilience

But what if you can’t be put back together?

Time for a parable…

An elderly woman had two large pots. Each pot hung on the ends of a pole, which she carried across her shoulders. Every day, she used this device to carry water to her home.

One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. The other had a deep crack in it and leaked. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this situation occurred daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the woman one day by the stream, saying, “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 and replied, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walked back home you watered them and made them grow. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table and give to my friends and neighbours. Without you being just the way you are, there would not have been this special beauty to grace our homes and lives.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws.  We’re all cracked pots.  This does not mean you are inefficient or useless in certain areas of your life. What may feel like a flaw to you is often a blessing in disguise.

Still not convinced?

Then let me offer you an extract from “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. 

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’ 

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’ 

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 

I’d rather be Real than perfect.

Promise me, this year you won’t hide the things that make you you. Your scars show you have survived life’s battles, your flaws show you are fabulously human. And if most of your hair has been loved off, you’re loose in the joints and very shabby, at least you’ll know you are Real.

Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.

Oscar Wilde

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