Friday, June 18, 2010


The most important things in life aren’t things.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

This quote reminds me of the story of the philosophy professor.

When the students arrived for their lecture, the professor had on his desk a large glass jar and three shoe boxes. The jar was empty. One box contained a dozen or so large rocks, the next was full of small pebbles and the last contained sand. Do you know the story?

The professor greeted the class, and then gently placed the rocks in the glass jar until he couldn’t fit any more in. He asked the students if the jar was full, and they agreed that it was.

Next, he picked up the box of pebbles and began to tip them into the jar. With a little judicious shaking, the pebbles fell between the rocks and filled in the spaces. Again, he asked the students if the jar was full. They laughed, and said yes, this time the jar was really full.

Then the professor gently poured in the sand, which filled the remaining gaps in the jar.

Let’s take the glass jar as representative of life, the rocks as the truly important things (family, health, relationships), the pebbles as other important stuff (school, work) and the sand can represent small stuff and material possessions.

If we put the sand in the jar first, there will not be enough room for all the rocks and pebbles. The same can be said of life. If we spend all our time and energy on amassing material possessions, we won’t have the time and energy for the really important stuff.

We need to be cognizant of what in life is vital for our happiness and well-being, and make sure that we invest time and energy in that – follow a healthy lifestyle, play with our children, write to a loved-one far away. There will always be time to clean the house or go shopping for shoes, so tend to the rocks first.

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