February01

February 2012 – The Mayonaise Jar and the Beer

THE MAYONAISE JAR AND THE BEER

The piece below is a classic for our times. Never do we question the meaning of everything more than in times of challenge and these are certainly times that challenge everyone. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of the very basic elements that are really important and we have to keep ourselves from getting sidetracked by the things that aren’t. This is a piece we have published before but is definitely one that deserves re-reading from time to time. Please enjoy it.

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 the beer.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he 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 were full. They agreed that it was.

So 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 were 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 were full. The students responded with a unanimous yes.

The professor then produced two bottles of beer 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, your favorite passions – things that if everything else were 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. Enjoy your friends. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the washing. 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. “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 beers.”

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