Rocks, Gravel, Sand and Water

by | Mar 26, 2012 | Faith | 2 comments |

Years ago, I received a forwarded email about a time-management story – did you get that one, too? Speaking to business students, the time-management expert used an illustration. He put fist-sized rocks in a large-mouth mason jar, and then, asking if it was full yet, continued to pour gravel then sand then water into the jar. The students thought the point was that they could always put more in the jar. “No,” the speaker replied, “the truth of the illustration is if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the “big rocks” in life?  Work, family, faith, education, finances, teaching…?

Smack in the middle of my “third chapter” of life, I already have a lot of experience with “big rocks”. And frankly, I tend to think less about how to fill my jar and more about how to clean it out. What rocks, gravel, sand and liquid would I like to throw out so I have time to think, perchance to make the world a better place for my being in it?

The complaining rock, oh, boy, would I like to get rid of that boulder! But then I’d have to pick out the self-righteous gravel and fish around for all those grains of self-pity. Hmm, that would be a difficult extraction and take a lot of time…

So what about pitching out the worry rock, that “I’m so busy with my checklists”, everyday chatterings of the ‘monkey mind’, as Buddhists say. But then I’d have to pour out some comforting waters of attention, the smooth sand of unearned compassion, plus the gravelly illusion that I’m actually getting things done.

Ok, surely I can lose that extra 5 pounds of rock, gravel, sand and water – well, maybe it’s more like 10 pounds. But then I’d have to remove yummy desserts, that glass of wine with dinner and jellybeans from my jar.

Maybe I like whining, worrying and waddling…

What’s in your jar?


  1. Sarah Myers

    I love this – it makes me chuckle at myself!

  2. Carole Duff

    Thank you for sharing your enjoyment!


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