Life and a Can of Beer
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of
him. When the class began, wordlessly, he 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.
So 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 golf
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
The professor then produced two cans of beer 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, your favorite
passions--things that 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, your
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. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time
to clean the house, and fix the disposal.
"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. "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
BA (Hons), MFA, PhD
Nothing can withstand the powers of love, laughter and imagination