During my training as a teacher, I was given an analogy that compared relationships to a bucketful of acorns.
The speaker held up an empty metal bucket. He said, “This is the person you’re in a relationship with.”
He placed acorns on the table in front of him. He said, “These are moments. They are kind words and insults. They are good deeds and trespasses.”
He handed the bucket to a woman sitting nearby. He told her she was doing a wonderful job at preparing for her career. Then he placed an acorn in the bucket.
Then he left the room and came back with a soda from the machine outside. He handed it to the woman and put another acorn in the bucket.
Then he kicked her.
Not hard. Just enough to catch her off guard and make her a tiny bit nervous.
He reached in the bucket and took out an acorn.
“Every interaction with people consists of deposits and withdrawals. You want to make sure you’re making as many deposits as possible, because eventually, even by accident, you’re going to end up making withdrawals,” he said.
I think about that demonstration all the time.
Now I’m not so great at banking, but I do know that if there’s $100 in my checking account and I write a check for $150, it’s gonna bounce.
And so I also know that with people in my life, if I care to have them around at all, if I care to make a positive impact on their life or want them to trust me, I need to invest in them.
I need to put acorns in the bucket.
But what happens when you’ve made several deposits in the other person’s bucket but they never make any in yours? What happens with they’ve given you no acorns and then they walk up and kick you?
Even if you’re a forgiving person (and I struggle with that) you’re going to feel that person is bankrupt after awhile. You’re going to take your empty bucket and go somewhere else.
You can’t ever get back the acorns you put in their bucket either. You gave time and thought and maybe even money to this person, but it’s an investment you can’t ever touch, because really what they’ve done is just dump out the bucket.
Today I realized that I made deposits in another’s bucket for no reason. I realized that every time I gave, and they took, that they never tried to reciprocate.
I looked down and not only was my bucket bereft of acorns, it had some IOUs in there. It was an account that was severely overdrawn.
So I’m closing that account. I’m taking my bucket elsewhere. And while I’m not ok with that, while I had hoped for better, I have to accept that some people are incapable of handing out acorns.
Are your buckets full? If not, how do you wish others would invest acorns in you?