28 January 2013

A Monday Of Rocks, Pebbles, Sand And Coffee...

I haven't had much time to read all my favorite blogs in quite a while and so I did not see a post by Rave of The Last Cordwainer until this past weekend.  It was her first post of the new year with her salutations and philosophy of life.  (I love your salutation Rave and agree that I am NOT special and several 'years' have not attacked me at once and so I am almost a month behind and more than several dollars short, but I still wanted to wish you a Happy New Year too!)

Rave's post stuck in my mind all weekend, so this morning, to find a peace of mind (or maybe a piece of my mind that has gone missing), I went to research the story she shared about a Philosophy Teacher's class and whether it had ever been published anywhere as I'm always looking for books to add to my 'The Giving Book Club' collection. Apparently it's been around for a long time and there are many different versions that all say essentially the same thing.

I could not discover who was the original author. So I've tried to find the most complete version to post here for me to add to my collection as a great reminder of minding what is important.
A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks, rocks about 2 inches in diameter. 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, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

Most agreed it was. 

The students laughed. Some of them were getting to know his pattern. The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

Again he asked if the jar was full as he packed the sand down tightly.

Almost everyone agreed that it now must be full, after all, what else would fit, right?

It was then that the professor took his cup of coffee and slowly poured it into the sand, where it was absorbed and went in between the sand, the pebbles and the rocks.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this is your life. The rocks are the important things – your family, your partner, your health, your children – 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 car.

The sand is everything else, the small stuff.

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 and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

The Coffee though, that represents everything that is none of your business!

So often our lives are filled with the things that do not even belong to us, do not even concern us. If I filled this jar with coffee, what would happen with the first rock, the first pebble or even the first teaspoon of sand? The coffee would spill out and you would be left in a puddle of someone else’s business.

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 dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party and fix the disposal.

Take care of the rocks first – the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.” 

Leave the coffee for someone else!


  1. I am very happy Pebbles & Rocks worked for you!
    I have loved the story for many years. And it's what got me through 25 years of a bad marriage and also what gave me the courage to leave when the time came.

  2. I heard this many years ago at work... talking about prioritizing your job. I like this one better. Prioritizing your life. Besides, just wanted to say hi and nice to see you posting again. Hope this is a pebble you keep putting in your jar.

  3. Rave - Thank you for posting it first. I was amazed at the amount of different versions and that I could not learn the attribution. Still, I truly do love it. I have a few others I should post in the coming days.

    Christie - Had you read this before? And if so, do you remember where? Rave's post was my first introduction to it.

    VWBug - I will definitely be posting much more. I've had two surgeries on my back in the last 18 months and the last one had some severe complications. Learning to walk again and heal pretty much took all of my concentration and effort. Add several family car accidents and you can see why things have been sporadic. My kids, however, insisted that I get an iPhone and I have been discovering ways to post on it so I'm happy to be writing again. Since I have a lot of health issue 'rocks' in my life right now, I don't have as much times for the pebbles such as writing, reading other blogs, sewing, quilting, cooking and such at the moment, but that is slowly changing. (emphasis on the SLOWLY because I am not an incredibly patient person) :)


Contents from normal neural synapsis goes here....
Should unnatural neural synapsis occur? Take one cherry chocolate Hershey Kiss and carry on.
Should NO neural synapsis occur? Take two full strength chocolate Hershey Kisses and
try again in the morning.