Monday, October 18, 2010

Lesson 15: I've only got 100 years to live

I've got 100 years to achieve my ultimate goal.  Live my life, that is.  I will be 40 in March, so that leaves me approximately 60 and a half years to fit in everything I want to do between now and 3-3-2071. 

The above video is a great song I was reminded of this week.  It is called 100 Years by the band Five for Fighting.  Generally, I can't stand writing or interpreting poetry, but I love song lyrics.  If I was a high school teacher, I would let the musically talented kids write their own music and put the tunes to those dreadful poems they make everyone read and analyze.  Now how cool would that be if you told your class of 10th graders they could bring in their guitars, complete with amps, and write a melody to go with a Robert Frost poem?  Poetry would be instantly hip.  Too bad I am not high school certified, or have any musical training.  But I can play Amazing Grace with two hands on the piano in case you haven't read Lesson 13 yet.  And that is all you really need in life.

My favorite lines are the chorus:  15 there's still time for you, Time to buy and time to lose, 15 there's never a wish better than this, When you only got 100 years to live.  And how awesome is that I was ready to write Lesson 15 when I found this song again!  It must be a sign from above.... or just my obsession with numbers since I'm a LOST fan.  When I look back at myself at 15 I remember it being a great experience.  It is fun to think back to that time and remember what it felt like to be of that age.  Being fifteen is a strange mix:  the need to laugh, cry, smile, vomit, hide, squeal, and punch something--all within the same day.  I hang out with high school kids once a week and watch it happen before my eyes.  Spend some time with a fifteen year old and you'll see what I mean.

This also reminds me of a neat story I came across years ago and always saved.  It is about living your life and is titled, "Stones, Pebbles, or Sand--What do you have in the Jar of Your Life?"  The copy I have is a print out from the Internet and I have little information about its origin.  I've read similar stories over the years, but will type this one in verbatim from what I have in front of me.  I've found the little details often change, but the basic message remains the same.  Read below in blue if you haven't heard this one yet.  My comments are in black.  Hey, it's my blog, so I can interject whenever I want.  If you find it annoying, just click the red X on the top right hand corner of your screen.  It is the beauty of the computer window.  I plan on using this story with my Quest students this year, as our theme for the year is LIFE. 

One day an old professor was invited to lecture on the topic of "Efficient Time Management" (guess I missed that lecture)  in front of a group of 15 (see, there's that number again--I have a thing with numbers since I am a LOST fan) executive managers representing the largest, most successful companies in America (betcha one was GE).  The lecture was one in a series of 5 lectures conducted in one day, and the old professor was given one hour to lecture.

Standing in front of this group of elite managers, who were willing to write down every word that would come out of the famous professor's mouth, the professor slowly met eyes with each manager, one by one, and finally said, "We are going to conduct an experiment."

From under the table that stood between the professor and the listeners, the professor pulled out a big glass jar and gently placed it in front of him.  Next, he pulled out from under the table a bag of stones, each the size of a tennis ball, and placed the stones one by one in the jar.  He did so until there was no room to add another stone in the jar.  Lifting his gaze to the managers, the professor asked, "Is the jar full?"  The managers replied, "Yes."

The professor paused for a moment, and replied, "Really?"  (Hint: when a teacher says this, it is usually the first clue that you missed the boat).

Once again, he reached under the table and pulled out a bag full of pebbles.  Carefully, the professor poured the pebbles in and slightly rattled the jar, allowing the pebbles to slip through the larger stones, until they settled at the bottom.  Again, the professor lifted his gaze to his audience and asked, "Is the jar full?"

At this point, the managers began to understand his intentions.  One replied, "Apparently not!" (Must have been Steve Groshek). 

"Correct," replied the old professor, now pulling out a bag of sand from under the table.  Cautiously, the professor poured the sand into the jar.  The sand filled up the spaces between the stones and the pebbles. 

Yet again, the professor asked, "Is the jar full?"  Without hesitation, the entire group of students replied in unison, "No!"

"Correct," replied the professor.  And as was expected by the students, the professor reached for the pitcher of water that was on the table, and poured water in the jar until it was absolutely full.  The professor now lifted his gaze once again and asked, "What great truth can we surmise from this experiment?"

With his thoughts on the lecture topic, one manager quickly replied, "We learn that as full as our schedules may appear, if we only increase our effort, it is always possible to add more meetings and tasks." (Steve is really smart, isn't he?).

"No", replied the professor (guess not).  The great truth we can conclude from this experiment is (now pay attention Steve, this is deep):

If we don't put all the larger stones in the jar first, we will never be able to fit all of them later.

The auditorium fell silent, as every manager processed the significance of the professor's words in their entirety (if they were all men, this should have taken a considerable amount of time)

The old professor continued, "What are the large stones in your life?  Health?  Family?  Friends?  Your goals?  Doing what you love?  Fighting for a Cause (hmm--reminds me of Five for Fighting)?  Taking time for yourself?

What we must remember is that it is most important to include the larger stones in our lives, because if we don't do so, we are likely to miss out on life altogether.  If we give priority to the smaller things in life (pebbles & sand), our lives will be filled up with less important things, leaving little or no time for the things in our lives that are most important to us.  Because of this, never forget to ask yourself, What are the Large Stones in your life?  And once you identify them, be sure to put them first in your "Jar of Life."

With a warm wave of his hand, the professor bid farewell to the managers, and slowly walked out of the room.

Take care of the large stones first--the things that REALLY matter.  Set your priorities.  The rest are just pebbles and sand.  If you put the sand or the pebbles in the jar first, there will be no room left for the stones.

The same goes for your life.  If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for things that are truly most important.

Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life.  Take time to play with your children (and read to them).  Take your partner out to dinner (or at least to the new movie Eloise likes--The Social Network).  Take time to chat with your loved ones (and visit with old friends from when you were 15).  There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, and give a dinner party (who does that, June Cleaver?).

Sometimes the less important things in life can distract us, filling up our time and keeping us away from what really matters.  Eloise encourages you to take a moment (like the moment from the song above) and ask yourself, is your jar of life filled with sand and pebbles or with large stones?  I'm about to dump my jar and reorganize--anyone care to join me?

1 comment:

Sue said...

I absolutely love your blog! You are wiser beyond your years! We always think we have 100 years to live, but after my experience these past six months, I have learned to say what I need to say, feel what I need to feel and love and appreciate everyday as if it's the last day of my life. Thank you for reminding me about those bigger stones and how important they are! I was thinking about folding and putting away some laundry; but I'm sure it'll still be there tomorrow! Keep up the tremendous work! I've got to read more of this blog!