A teacher stood before his students at the end of the year. As class began, the teacher filler a glass jar with large rocks from the ground around him. Before long the jar was filled to the top. The teacher asked his students, is the jar full? The students agreed that yes, it was full.
Watching his students, the teacher then picked up small pebbles, placing them into the jar, shaking it lightly to allow the pebbles to move between the rocks. Once again, the students were asked, is the jar full. The students agreed again that it was. Some however, seeing that the teacher was not done, replied “Not fully.”
The teacher then began to pick up handfuls of sand. Pouring them into the jar, the sand filled the openings between the rocks and pebbles. “The jar could be said to be full.”
“This jar represents life, your life. The large rocks are the important things in your life…duty…family…the spirit…your partner…health…companions…children. If everything else from your life was lost and only the large remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other aspects that matter in your life…career…home…wealth. The sand from the ground represents the small things, everything else that is underfoot.”
“If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your time, space and energy on the smaller stuff, you will never have room for the things that should truly matter to you.”
“So be attentive to the things that are crucial to your happiness. Play with your children and spend time with them. Don’t neglect your health. Treat your partner with love. Be there for your friends and companions.”
“There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, run errands, and fix the roof. Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”
The students were speechless and all agreed it was a great year-end lesson.
Observing all of this, one student, thinking himself clever asked “But teacher, is the jar really full, even with the sand.”
Smiling, the teacher responded. Pulling a jar of saki, the professor filled the space around the sand, truly making the jar full now. “No, because even in a full life, there is always room for merriment and joy.”