I am not a very big fan of Paulo Coelho, but there is one story of his that I like a lot. More than the lesson imparted at the end of it, I liked the way of the impartation. It goes something like:
The teacher placed a large glass jar on the table.
Then out of a bag he took ten stones, each the size of an orange, and began placing them, one by one, in the jar.
When the jar was filled to the brim with stones, he asked his students:
‘Is it full?’ They all agreed that it was. The teacher, however, took some gravel from another bag and by jiggling the large stones around inside the jar, managed to fit in quite a lot of gravel.
‘Is it full now?’ The students said, yes, this time it was definitely full. At that point, the teacher opened a third bag, this time full of fine sand, and he began to pour it into the jar. The sand filled up any empty spaces between the large stones and the gravel, right up to the top.
‘Right,’ said the teacher. ‘Now the jar is full. What do you think I’ve been trying to demonstrate to you?’
‘That it doesn’t matter how busy you are, there’s always room to fit in something else,’ said one student.
‘Not at all. What this little demonstration shows us is that we have to put the large stones in first because, afterwards, they won’t fit. Now what are the important things in our lives? What are the plans we postpone, the adventures we never have, the loves we fail to fight for? Ask which are the large, solid stones that keep God’s flame alive in you and put them into your jar of decisions now, because very soon there will be no room for them.’
I usually recollect this story during my daily and almost always, eventful morning bus journeys to office. The overflowing bus, precariously leaning towards the sensitive entry-exit side, provides a good bird eyes’ view of the peak morning traffic.
Then I notice how the big buses, vans, cars etc resemble big stones in a glass jar-type road. Just when I think that the road can’t possibly be any more packed, I hear honking, followed by yellow gravel-type autos, with adventurous drivers twisting and turning to occupy the empty spaces between these bigger stones. This has to be it – I think. Ding! Wrong again – in comes a horde of shiny-black-helmet sand-type bikers, riding full-speed; tilting their bike at amazing angles, getting in between the big stones and the gravel.
The early morning portrait is now full of green buses, silver cars, yellow autos and black bikers. Above the rapidly developing pollution cloud, protected from the searing morning heat, sitting in a hard-earned place and disdainfully watching the filling up of free spaces in the road, I feel like a queen of a vehicle-jungle. As I grin happily at the thought, the grandma next to me gives me a sympathetic look and decides to look the other way.
The little pleasures in life! **Sigh**