Monday Zen: The Broken Cup

Last June, I ordered a reusable coffee cup. It was beautiful. Made of bamboo in a stylish dark grey with green lettering. It felt good in your hand. Plus, discounts at the café I go to each day!

But then, last week, as I was waiting outside for two friends, it fell down. I must’ve tried to grab it too quickly. Pang! In a split-second, it was gone. Cracked. Straight down the middle.

My friends had come back. They’d heard the noise. We all stood there for a second in shock. Then, we walked back to school. I looked at the cracked cup once again, then chucked it into the nearest trash can.

My friends laughed: “Oh no! What are you gonna do? Will you get a new one?”

“You know, it’s been 10 seconds. I think I’ll figure that out later. For now, it’s gone.”

For 10 months, I had used this cup every day. And in one moment, that small, but consistent part of my life was lost. You know what’s weird? Actually, it was okay.

It was the perfect reminder of one of my favorite stories:

A Zen master was given a beautifully crafted crystal cup. It was a gift from a former student.

He was very grateful. Every day, he enjoyed drinking out of his glass. He would show it to visitors and tell them about the kindness of his student.

But every morning, he held the cup in his hand for a few seconds and reminded himself: “This glass is already broken.”

One day, a clumsy visitor toppled the glass on its shelf. The cup fell down. When it hit the floor, it was smashed into thousands of tiny pieces.

The other visitors gasped in shock, but the Zen master remained calm. Looking at the mess in front of his feet, he said: “Ah. Yes. Let’s begin.”

He picked up a broom and started sweeping.

One day I wrote: “half of happiness is being okay with what you don’t get.” Now, I think I know the other half: being okay with losing what you have.

I always knew this cup wouldn’t last forever. I just didn’t know when it would happen. But when it did, I felt ready. It was like welcoming an awaited friend. And then turning a new chapter.

Be grateful for what you have. But, even more so, stay grateful for what you’ve had and lost. Because nothing lasts forever.

Not even the sturdiest of cups.


About Monday Zen: Most people hate Monday. Why? In a good life, it’s a day like any other. At the very least, it shouldn’t be worse by default. That’s what Monday Zen is for: To make sure you start the week with calm, poise, and determination.

Let’s not derail our trains of thought before they leave the station. Let’s enjoy the journey.

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