A Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers

A dear friend of mine sent me an email this morning that’s got me feeling contemplative. You may have seen it before, but I’d like to share my thoughts on it here.

The first question it brings up for me is: what’s important to me in life? What are the “golf balls” in your life? Which things are the sand? What things are critical to your happiness?

For those of you who haven’t seen the email, here it is:

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

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 beers 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 or 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. (I’d like to interject here and ask you again, What things are critical to your happiness?!)

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 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 beer represented.

The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked. The beers just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.’

This story is significant to me in so many ways. My first thought is that, yes — I never regretted the time I spent with my Mom when she was sick. I was going on four hours of sleep a night and was exhausted, but I was young, I could handle it. We had such great times that last month or so of her life – and I would sorely regret it now if I hadn’t taken the time. That sounds like golf balls.

The same goes for my grandmother. My life was pretty hectic the last few months of her life – hey, but isn’t it always? The thing is, unlike with my Mom, I didn’t know how short my time with Grandma was going to be. I simply knew that she was important to me and I loved her. I didn’t go without sleep (much), but I listened to my heart and devoted myself to spending at least a couple of evenings with her each week.

I will feel eternally gratefull that I listened to my heart and took the time to spend with her. She passed suddenly and unexpectedly a few months later. Turns out, my housecleaning waited until after she passed…I jest. I still found the time to clean my house – I just didn’t scrub the corners with a toothbrush like I usually did.

 
Okay… so I’m exaggerating and making light of a serious subject – are you not used to that by now?!
 
The other thing it says to me is that as women, we tend to take on the world – our world, our kids’ world, our spouse’s world, our friends’ worlds… not that this isn’t admirable. It’s what makes us who we are and one of the many things that makes us indispensible. My question is, how often do you let yourself down because you’re so busy taking care of everyone else? When are you going to make yourself a priority in your own life?!
 

I’m not saying you need to drop everyone else, not take care of business,  not take care of your kids, home, life, boss, etc. All I’m asking is…”Don’t you deserve top billing in your life?” Shouldn’t you be listed somewhere high up in your own movie credits instead of falling somewhere around “stunt double”, “extra” or “third girl from the left”? Ladies – take care of yourselves. Make some time for yourself – don’t forget to nurture youin the busy-ness of nurturing everyone else.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Mayo Jar: A Lesson About What’s Really Important in Life « inspiremewithwords

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