No, that's not the punch line to a dirty joke. It could be … but in this case, it's my feelings on life right now.
The last seven days have been rough. Not romantically (Mrs. Axe is my love and vice versa). Not professionally (job is ok). Not writing-wise (book is going well). Not even for health reasons (doing good, though my knees hurt from running).
But it does seem, like the last few days, the circle of people around me are having trouble. To wit:
– One of my coworkers lost his 20-something wife and unborn child in one fell stroke (cause unknown, but pregnancy complications seem the culprit). The day it happened, I got the call at 530AM. Absolutely tragic.
– An old high school friend of mine had family badly injured in a car accident, leaving those affected with life-altering injuries.
– Another coworker whose company I enjoy has been fighting significant health issues and while he is doing better, it's still lingering.
– Three people I know are having, to varying degrees, serious marital difficulties.
It's hard to see folks you know dealing with all these issues but looked at under one collective lens, one conclusion comes to mind very quickly: life is too short. You have to decide what you, as a person, want out of life and work to make it happen. I don't mean with a job, but take the steps you need to make it so. The whole thing also reminds me that there are things on which people put way too much emphasis. I am reminded of the parable of sand yet again.
(Muse (groaning): Not the parable of sand again.)
Shut up, slut! Anyway, here it is:
A professor of philosophy walks into his class one day. Without saying a word, the professor reaches under the desk and pulls out a large, wide-mouth glass jar and bucket of fist-sized rocks. He proceeds to drop the rocks into the jar until they are stacked up to the rim. He looks at the class and asks if the jar is the jar is full.
The students agree that it is. The professor reaches under his desk and pulls out a second pail – this one filled with pebbles – and dumps the tiny rocks in. The pebbles trickle down between the gaps left by the big rocks until they fill in the space. He pours pebbles in until they reach the top. He again asks the class if the jar is full.
They again agree. The professor produces a third pail – this one filled with sand – and despite the muttering from the class, pours the sand in the jar, which fills in the tinier gaps left by the small rocks. He does this until the sand reached the rim and repeats his question a third time.
The students are hesitant at this point … so the professor pulls out two beers, pops the tabs, and – amidst some chuckles – pours them in, where the liquid fills in the gaps between the sand. He walks around the desk and faces his class.
"This jar," the professor says, "represents your life. The big rocks are the things that are most important to you. For most people this would be things such as your spouse, your children, your family, your friends, your health, your happiness. The small rocks are things that are also important but not quite as much as the big rocks: your career, your house, your car, your hobbies. Everything else? It's just sand."
"Now, when you go to fill the jar of your life, if you put the sand in first, there will be no room for anything else. Make sure you put the big rocks in first. In the greater scheme of things, if your spouse needs your attention tonight, does the lawn need to be mowed right now? Do you put off that visit to the doc because you don't have enough time? Do you put up your Christmas lights because everyone else in the neighborhood is, instead of taking your daughter to the park?"
"If you do this consistently, you will find that you are always putting the big rocks first and you won't sweat the small things – the sand. They aren't as important. Focus on what's important to fill your life and ignore the rest. Waiter was rude to you? Got cut off in traffic? Lost a five dollar bill on the subway? Those things are just sand."
As the professor finished his monologue, one of the students said, "What about the beers?"
The professor smiled. "That's just to show that no matter how full your life is, there is always room for a few beers."
So that's it. Life is hard and could be gone before you know it, so enjoy it while you have a chance. Tonight I am going to go for a walk, call my wife, and have a beer, before it's too late.
Laters. And don't mind the sand.