Fleeting: Philosophy Class

The following came around my Facebook feed and I felt it had to be shared:

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. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

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.

What I found to be interesting is that the golf balls were considered to be the most important things like:
– family, children, health, friends and favorite passions

Now family, children, health, friends all kind of go without saying. But passions! That is kind if hard to figure out. How does one determine what one’s passions are? What determines when something is a passion as opposed to a hobby?

This was something that I fought with for the past couple of decades… what is my passion in life? What am I most passionate about? Easily the arts in some capacity ranks rather high on that list, without it I am not me… I love challenges and theatre provides easily the biggest challenge to my life to date. Everything else comes easily (or so it seems) but theatre does not, thus why I do it…

But what else am I passionate about? That’s hard to say… I have interests to be sure, just like everyone else… But is it that I absolutely have to do to be happy other than the above? Who knows.

What I do know is that my current life as it stands right now has been far more fulfilling than it has been in the past… Just surpassing the other singular most fulfilling aspect of my life.

Which is…?

Well for almost a year and a half I worked for an online university first as an academic advisor then as a credential specialist before going back to being a kind of academic advisor. It was during the time that I was a credential specialist that I felt I was the most fulfilled with life… Because in regards to work I was content with what I was doing, believed in it, enjoyed some of the people that I worked with (if not the management at the time) and found a way to integrate my need for the arts as well.

At that time it wasn’t theatre that tickled my fancy but dancing (ballroom) and writing.

Oddly enough, I never felt quite as fulfilled when in a relationship with someone or even when dating which kind if makes me wonder if either:
1) I haven’t found the right person yet that fits the life I lead or
2) my fulfillment doesn’t need a relationship to be any more fulfilled

Who knows… But I digress.

As for this moment, this year, I am fulfilled In doing what I want to do and enjoying life as I have created it. I have many groups of friends from many walks of life as well as many outliers in other friends that I make a point of visiting when I can. And maybe that is why the above story means a lot to me… Because what that story shows is when you pare down to the most important things in life you are already fulfilled and so the small stuff really doesn’t matter as much in the grand scheme of things.

However when two of the most important things in one’s life start to conflict how does one cope? Well I suppose that is another story for another time…. =)