A teacher began her class with a table prepared with an assortment of materials. She presented an empty gallon jar to the students, then took a number of large rocks and carefully placed them into the jar, packing it right up to the brim.
She asked the students…“Is the jar full?” …
They responded yes.
She then took a number of smaller stones and carefully dropped them down between the big rocks. These filled the spaces, and so she asked again… “Is the jar full?” It looked pretty full but they could see she was up to something!
Then she funneled sand down into the jar, filling the nooks and crannies between the big and little rocks, and again asked… “Now is the jar full?” They admitted that it seemed to be.
Finally, she took a beaker of water and poured it in. While the water sank and the air bubbles rose, she poured until the water nearly spilled over the top and the jar finally became full, holding its capacity. The students erupted unison, “Now the jar is full!”
Think of your life like this jar. The large rocks represent the biggest, most important things in our lives. These are our greatest passions, responsibilities and values. We have to first allocate time and space for these big rocks in our lives before we fill our days and use our energy up with all the smaller, less important things.
The smaller stones are subordinate goals that add to the biggest, most important things in our life. They are the activities that join us to our closest family members and friends, the commitments of our time that help us accomplish our goals, and the memories we are creating to get us through the darker times ahead.
The sand is the everyday tasks that we do, always with our greatest vision and ambition in mind. Sometimes there are so many of them that it seems we cannot possibly get them all done. On those days when we are most exhausted, when everything seems to be going wrong or breaking or causing sorrow, our main goals are completely obscured by all these minute happenings, but we must remember that those large rocks are safely tucked inside.
Think of the water as love, touching everything, always. It flows gently through and between these solid objects and responsibilities, connecting, clarifying and cleansing them. It surrounds us in its stillness.
So, how do you choose to fill your jar?