Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Making room in the jar

A friend sent this story to me today. I'd heard it before, but I relished reading it again as a reminder of what I should be doing with my time. I ask you to comment: what are your golf balls? And what kinds of sand often get in the golf balls' way?

When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty 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.

The professor then 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 then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next 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 cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends and 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 and your car.

The sand is everything else--the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "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. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. 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 coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked… It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

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8 comments:

Bug said...

To answer my own question: golf balls = writing, doing creative things (knitting, photography, making collages), yoga and exercise, family and friends (esp Bug), doing what I can to help the greater world.

Sand = household chores and tasks, social obligations I don't really want to attend, causes I feel the need to take on even though I know I don't have the time.

Anonymous said...

LOVE IT! My golf balls: writing and nurturing my writing career by developing a community (thanks, guys!), spending time with R, yoga/walking, reading, creative activities like knitting and cooking and taking photos, keeping up with family and friends, contributing where possible (encouraging young feminists, serving in various volunteer capacities, tithing to worthy charities).
SAND: some emailing, laundry and cleaning (I don't actually do a lot of this!), serving on some useless committees at work (I've actually stopped doing this as much aspossible too).
COFFEE (or tea): Yes, please.

GoGo said...

Golf balls = school, work internship

pebbles = housework, laundry, paying bills,

sand = beach, friends, music, running and driving around the country

cups of coffee = writing, everday as regularly as the cup of coffee I drink every morning. :O)!!!!!!

Thanks for this.

~gg

Anonymous said...

This is quite wise. Golf balls - family, friends, writing, reading

sand - housework, work,

coffee - chocolate!

Anonymous said...

Golf ball: Riding, Reading, Writing, Teaching

Sand:cleaning, shopping,

Coffee, sweet with lots of cream..alone and quiet..or with friend and cackling!

PS love Widow for a Year..one of my favs...

Bug said...

I love how housework is all of our "sand." I think my New Year's Resolution will be to hire a cleaner. (I'm only half joking...)

Anonymous said...

Good story. I'm glad that they didn't forget the cups of coffee--I would have been bummed to get to the end and not know what the coffee represented.

Golf balls: Family, friends, writing

Sand: Housework, chores, exercise (yes, exercise is a necessary evil for me)

coffee (my coffee is TEA!): Time away from family to collect my thoughts, music, movies


If I could hire a cleaning person to come in twice a year. Hmmm. Maybe that should be my resolution.

So, when are we having coffee/tea?

Repeater said...

Good one. Too many golf balls to list right now. (did I miss the point, then?)

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