A story has been floating around Facebook, which struck me. Here it is:
A professor walked in and stood before his philosophy class. He had some rather peculiar items in front of him. As soon as class began, without any words he picked up an empty, large mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
Then the professor picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He asked the students again if the jar was full. They again agreed, it was.
Next, he picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous, “Yes!”
The professor then produced two bottles beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed and were intrigued.
“Now,” spoke the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.”
He carried on explaining, “If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life—if you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness: spend time with your children, spend time with your parents, visit with grandparents, take your spouse out to dinner, play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn. Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and replied, ‘I’m glad you asked. The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there is always room for a couple of beers with a friend.”
In our lives, we tend to lose focus on the things that really matter. We are constantly busy with work, school, classes, church, sports, music lessons, meetings, planning weddings. We fill our lives so that we are busy, but is that our purpose of life? What happened to taking time to smell the roses? Sitting down to read the newspaper? Drinking a cup of coffee?
Slow down. That’s the answer. Take time to reflect, take a walk, write a letter. Breathe. Live life. Be adventurous. Be present. Be here now.