A longstanding, honorary member of our group has decided she needs to focus more on her growing psychotherapy practice, and that it’s time to move on. We shall miss her, her wise counsel and gentle support, but we know we’ll stay in touch. As a goodbye, she left us this lovely story – more of a fable, really, about embracing the past and the present, and living life to the full.
The Ceramic Tea Set
Without knowing why, Makiko felt like arranging the cupboard where she kept all her lovely porcelain tea sets. It was something she didn’t do often, nor did she ever enjoy it. However, that day she felt like being with those pieces of her life.
While taking out the cups and saucers, she came across her grandmother’s Japanese tea set with small violet flowers; fine and delicate, just as her grandmother was. The image of that old tea set took her back to her past. She remembered herself as a little girl playing and running around her grandmother’s house, hearing a gentle voice saying: “Do not run, you will break something.”
Makiko also remembered her young parents and younger siblings and then she recalled the times she had enjoyed with her family when she had been so happy. She remembered the evenings, months and years that had passed all too quickly. Opening her eyes and drying her tears, she returned to the present.
Looking carefully at the grandmother’s Japanese tea set she realised that some pieces were missing and it was not complete. She also saw that other pieces were cracked or chipped. That ceramic tea set not only represented her past, but also her present. The missing pieces could never be replaced and the ones that were damaged would never look quite the same again. At this moment, her whole life gained strength, demonstrating to her that time does not stop, that life doesn’t wait.
Makiko suddenly saw another new ceramic tea set, with modern lines, and she smiled with relief. Life sometimes takes away, but it also gives back. We have to adjust to change, learning to leave things behind, without necessarily forgetting.
With this in mind, Makiko decided that she wanted to embrace the past and the present, to enjoy using both the older tea set belonging to her grandmother, as well as the new one, acknowledging that things are here to be used, that life is rich and precious, here to be lived to the full.