Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Along the path

There is a woman with whom I cross paths once in a while who has a lot of the same interests that I do.  On a recent visit she told me about the many successes she has been having this year, and of all of her exciting plans.  99.6% of my heart was thrilled for her.  She works hard and deserves good things in her life.  Then there was this other little part of my heart, you know, that shameful .4%, that felt all mossy and green.  I know, it shouldn't.  I should be content with the choices I have made for my life,
 and I really am most of the time,
 but sometimes I...
 (gasp, say it isn't so...)
 compare myself to others.

But sometimes I feel like it's not enough.  I'm not enough.

I'd like to say that "we all do", a little balm to comfort myself in the thought that not only am I as deep as a teacup, but  that except for folks like Gandhi and Mother Teresa, I am in ample company, but being married to Guy has taught me otherwise.  He is truly content with his life.  He seems to experience no pressure from being around others who enjoy different successes than his own.  He is happy in his skin, freckles and all.

It reminds me...

There is an old story about two watering pails, yolked together on the same shoulder bar, that were carried each day down to the river by an old woman.  One was a proud bucket in fine working order, the other had a leak of which it was most ashamed.  Each day the old woman trundled down to the river with her empty buckets and filled them, and then trudged up the path back to her home.  As she made her way, the bucket with the leak dribbled water the entire way, until by the time they had reached the old woman's cottage, it was barely half full.

The leaky bucket sat one day on the cottage floor and lamented to the other bucket.  "I am worthless.  I was made to carry water, but by the time we arrive home each day, you have not spilled a drop, while I, on the other hand have emptied half my load onto the ground.  Our poor old mistress must haul me each way, and for what?  A job half done."

The other bucket listened patiently, and when the leaky bucket was through, she said, "You do not see yourself clearly.  It is true that you leave a little water all along the path we travel each day.  But there is no shame in this, for as you have done so each day, you quench the earth on your side of the path, and a trail of lovely wildflowers have sprung up everywhere you have been, while my side of the path remains as brown and dry as if I had never been there.  The old woman thrills at the sight of those flowers, and is given pleasure in her work each day that she walks that path."

Sure enough, as the buckets were carried along the path that day, the leaky bucket saw spreading before them a narrow but lush little garden skirting the trail all along one side. Pink sprays of heather and floated above low mounds of white and purple asters.  Clouds of alyssum pillowed around the edges of the path, fringed by cool green clover and sunny little buttercups.  The leaky bucket in it's shame had never noticed them before.  As they made their way back from the river that day, the leaky bucket gloried at the trickle of water it left behind it all along the path.

We all have a part of the path that we share that is made more beautiful because we have been there.  Each one of us, even with our flaws -maybe even because of them - gives gifts that no one else can give. 
May we look for the flowers.
May we notice less our leaks.
May we surrender the need
 to compare ourselves to other buckets.
May we enjoy what we alone can do
 along the path.


mom-merrilygoalong said...

Laine, thank you! Everything you wrote about is so true!

Kristi Brausch said...

Thank you for sharing this.