"Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake up and become aware. It does not teach, it points." ~D.T. Suzuki

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Jar of Life

or A Labor Day  Lesson
The Jar of Life

A back to school lesson
 even if it's the school of hard knocks
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 two 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
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 holes of golf.

There will always be time
to clean the house,
 fix the disposal
or deal with things from your job.

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 beer just shows you
that no matter how full your life may seem,
there's always room for
a couple of beers with a friend.
© 2012 MU-Peter Shimon

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