No. 456



When a human being is born and comes into the world, one of the most precious gifts he is given is something we call time. The American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), once said, "Time is the shadow on the dial, the striking of the clock Ü these are but arbitrary and outward signs, the measure of Time, but not Time itself. Time is the life of the soul." Unless we have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to death, the amount of time we each have is not ours to know. However, we do know that how we use our time while we are here in this earth, whether we use it wisely or waste it, will determine our success or failure as a human being.

In these days when we must purchase most of our basic needs from others, that is to say, goods and services, time has become money. This fact has resulted in a dilemma that has produced stress, high blood pressure, heart disease and other medical conditions that take a toll on millions of people in our nation every year. This is exacerbated by the fact that an ever-increasing tax burden, especially the hidden tax of inflation, has caused the pace of life to quicken to the point that we meet ourselves coming back from places we should never have gone in the first place.

Along these lines, a friend sent me something the other day that has a wonderful message and something that every person who is caught up in the rat raceÕ should think about from time to time. When things in your life seem too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar Ü and the coffee. Several years ago at a small college in upstate New York, a professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he 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.

So the professor next 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 recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things Ü your God, your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions Ü 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 and your car. The sand is everything else Ü the small stuff." He continued, "If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all of 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. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse or a good friend out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. 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. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there is always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

This last line certainly has a lot of meaning. It says to me, and maybe to you, too, that if we get in too big of a hurry, we are going to miss spending some quality time and the blessings of being in touch with other human beings. In a far less important realm, the correct answer to the question, "Do you have time for a cup of coffee?" can mean extra money in our pocket, especially if we happen to be in the sales profession. When I was in outside sales and someone would ask the question, "Do you have time for a cup of coffee?" I always said "yes," even if I had 10 cups just before I got there. Coffee is fellowship and coffee is quality time to tell your story about what you are selling, and we are all selling something. Quality and fellowship are good thoughts to ponder. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)