Filling the Jars of Life
retold by Florence W Deems

A philosophy professor's students watched skeptically as he put rocks one at a time in a large jar. When the last rock filled the jar to its rim, the professor asked, "Would you say this jar is full?"

"Of course," chorused the students.

"Really," smiled the professor. He picked up a bag containing pebbles and poured them slowly into the jar, stopping a few times to shake the jar so the pebbles would fall down into the spaces between the rocks. Finally he held up the jar and again asked, "Now is this jar full?"

Laughing, the students agreed that now it was indeed full.

Chuckling, the professor picked up another small bag and started pouring its contents into the supposedly full jar. This was sand, which sifted down among and around all the rocks and the pebbles until finally the top of the jar was filled with sand. The students said that now the jar really was full, as nothing else would fit into it.

The professor explained why he'd done this exercise. "This jar is a metaphor for our lives. We have rocks, which represent our families and friends. We have pebbles, which represent our vocations, hobbies, houses, cars, clothing and other possessions. Finally we have sand, which represents all the little things which we can get distracted by, but which aren't really of great importance in our lives.

"Now, if we fill our lives with what the sand represents, we won't have time for our jobs, our homes, cars, clothing and so forth. And we certainly won't have the time or energy to devote to our families and friends, because we will have frittered away our time and energy on unimportant and trivial things. So, this exercise is a reminder to spend our time and energy first on what is most important in our lives, our families and friends; secondly on our jobs and so forth; and finally to spend very little time on the things which really have very little meaning in the long run. If we arrange our priorities and fill our jars first with the rocks, then we'll always have room for the pebbles and the sand.

~ Author Unknown

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