December27

Rocks, Pebbles, Sand, and Beer

By Tony Shepley

As the end of this year approaches and the new year is just around the corner, it is the time for thought, prioritization, and our inevitable resolutions. These are often the things we may be too busy to get to for most of the year but should take a moment to ponder. What follows is an old story. I didn’t write it…I found it. It is one of those that is worth reading and passing along. Please enjoy it and take the spirit of this tale with you into the New Year. Happy Holidays from all of us at Shepley!

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks right to the top, rocks about 2” diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was 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, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full? They agreed that yes, it was.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He then asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous — yes.

The professor then produced two cans of beer from under the table and proceeded to pour the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your health, your children – anything that is so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.

The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent material things like your job, your house, your car.

The sand is everything else. The small stuff.

If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, material things, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important. Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Play with your children. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal. Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities: The rest is just pebbles and 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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