Daily Archives: March 16, 2008

The important things in life

I have an acquaintance with a life sentence!

She has received the news none of us want to hear. The illness she has is not curable and the time scale is very short. Three young children wander about the house bewildered because they know something is wrong, yet they do not know what it is. Mum is prone to crying and dad and granny are constantly trying to reassure her.

Mum realises that she will never see her children grow up, not be there for many more birthdays, or family celebrations, or to comfort them in times of need. She worries that they might forget her. Or that they will remember her as the person always lying under a rug on the couch crying.

She has baby name tags, early pictures, bootees, baby toys and locks of hair in a treasure box. I have suggested to her to have three boxes, one for each child with their name on it, in her own handwriting. Then place the items for each child in their special box. Next I suggested that she write letters to each child in turn.

“Start writing now”, I said; “beginning with how you felt when you heard that they were expected, the planning and preparations for their arrival”. I suggested she tell them how special they are and about the little things that made her heart sing. Write about her feelings for them now, and of all the hopes and dreams she carries for them.

Put each letter in an envelope and seal it, Put each child’s name, and the date when you want them to get it, on the front. Think about this date, 18th, 21st birthdays of even on your death.

What better gift can a mother give!

While writing this I received an email from a dear friend. The attachment was a story:

The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Cups of Coffee

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

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 cups of coffee 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 recognise that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things…. Your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite 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 time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and put out the rubbish. 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 coffee represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked.”

The coffee just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.