Sunday, May 22, 2011

To My Nephew

Isn’t it enough that time plays “River Dance” all up and down our bodies and stomps the living daylights out of us? My Nephew is graduating today and even though he’s my sister’s kid, I’m feeling age mentally kicking the crap out of me. I blame my memories for being so vivid. I can replay the time when my Mom, Sister, and I were making a trip back from Riverton, Wyo. with my Nephew in his car seat sucking his thumb with his pointer finger and bird finger stuck up both his nostrils. We had to pull the car over because all 3 of us were laughing so hard we had tears rolling down our cheeks at such an innocent sight.

That was 18 years ago. For my memory, it seems just this year. But time is funny that way. Something they don’t teach you growing up is growing old, how memories will be so valuable but again so painful. My mother tried to explain that to me, but it was hard to understand. It’s something you can be aware of, but you won’t understand it until you are there.

As I’m sitting here staring at his graduation card, I struggle for something profound and useful to write, Something that might stay with him in the back of his mind, Something that might impact a fraction of his life when I’m long gone and forgotten. I could write a great quote from some great writer or thinker, but that’s clique and corny and that is so not my personality. So, I will give you this story that I listen too once and I will try and not screw it up in repeating it. I always found it full of truth. With the way my brain works it was one of those things that stuck with me for the past 27 years. I have applied it to almost every aspect of my life sometimes successfully sometimes with great failure, but I always returned to this philosophy in its simplistic terms

“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 beer.

“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 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 cans of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents of 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--your family, your children, your health, your friends, your favorite passions--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, 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. Play with your children. 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 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 beer 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’s always room for a couple of beers."

To all the Graduates this year and years too come, I wish you happiness in all you will do, whether its prestigious or not, whether it makes you rich or not, whether you become a Doctor or Janitor, regardless, I wish you happiness in what you do and become.

Fanito! (But really, is just the beginning of a great wonderious adventure)

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