Mayonaisse jar, coffee and a chess set...

Mayonaisse jar, coffee and a chess set...

Aug 21, 2012, 11:48 AM |

When things in your life seem, almost too much to handle...

When twenty four hours in a day is not enough...

I want to share something with you that was which taught to me by my grandfather who was formally a senior professor in philosophy at the University of Otago.

"Chloe, remember the mayonnaise jar, two cups of coffee and chess".

I want you to remember now...Smile

Before we begin this journey, refresh and clear your mind of all your troubles and worries, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths.




On May the 14th 2012, a tutor stood before her mentoring/advanced class and had some items in front of her. Closing walls and ticking clocks was a pending fate that shadowed their pale lifeless faces.

When the class began, wordlessly, she picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

She then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The tutor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. She shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. She then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The young tutor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. She asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The tutor 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 mentor, as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life. So please go ahead, imagine”.

“The golf balls are the important things – like family, siblings, or even children, health, friends, and 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 education, job, house, and car”.

“The sand is everything else —the small stuff”.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ she 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 friends, revise efficiently but effectively. Take time to get medical check ups. Take your partner out to dinner, to dance or even spend the night camping.

There will always be time to clean the house etc.

‘Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

Another student asked, “But Ms, how do we prepare ourselves to cope with life, I can’t rely on my parents”.

She stood there in silence for a while, leaving the students in awe and mystery.

“3 things, 1, when in a dilemma refer to someone you respect, someone wise and with a tentative ear, ask if they agree with how you achieved your decision and if they would do the same, 2, we are all forever learning, can we ever obtain all knowledge possible in this universe?, expect the unexpected, keep a balance of being realistic and optimistic, great things happen quickly, good things take time, bad things are good things in disguise no matter how awful they seem you can still take positives, 3, try to enjoy life, let your face shine in the dark when all others have lost hope, maybe you unknowingly give others hope”.

The clock strikes 7.00pm, end of class, before the students get up to leave, she leaves a chess set on the front desk, “Chess can teach you life, it can give you the focus and help you think out a problem logically.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The mentor giggled and smiled, ‘I’m glad you asked Ashley’, she said. ‘It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.’

Various Artists - Perfect Day

Thanks for reading,


*Puts her chess set pieces inside the mayonnaise jar while sipping her coffee with...*