I guess we’ve all had a teacher or two in our past that we disliked with a passion. And, I’m sure we’ve all had a teacher or two that we thought was the greatest learned person we ever knew.
I remember a history teacher in high school in Lisbon, North Dakota that I will never forget. I really liked history…American History. I just couldn’t wrap my head around world history. Especially things like the leader of a world religious sect ( A Pope…rather several Popes ) who seemed to pick up a sword, slay a few (lots) of non-believers and call them Holy Wars. The only Holy part that I could picture were the "holes" those swords left in a few so-called heathens.
Regardless…I liked this history teacher. He not only covered the historical happenings on this continent, every once in a while he brought a phisolsophical puzzle to the classroom.
I remember one in particular.
The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Beers
My high school American History teacher stood before our class in the old LHS building one morning and had some extra items in front of him when the class began. He wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar ( the kind you might see in a resturant) and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the class if we thought the jar was full. We all agreed that it was.
The teacher 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 us again if the jar was full.
We agreed it was.
He next picked up a box of sand and pouredit into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.
Once again we responded with an unanimous ‘yes.’
Finally the teacher then produced two open bottles of "Beer" from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand, the pebbles and the golf balls.
We all laughed…mainly because having a beer in the school back in 1957 was totally unheard of. I mean, I wasn’t objecting. It just wasn’t ever done.
‘Now,’ said the teacher as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar
represents most things in your life.
The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your
friends and your favorite passions—and 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 and 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. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. 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.’
WOW! We all just sat in our one-armed chairs with our mouths open thinking about what he had just told us. And how he told us, with visuals we could see and understand.
After what seemed like forever, I broke the silence in the room when I raised my hand and asked…"what the Beer represented". Most of my classmates kind of expected I would be the one who would ask such a question.
The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked Little Joe". "The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend".
Since that day…well not while I was still in high school, I mean "come on"…I have tried to put that philosophy into practice. I haven’t always been successful but I think I have a "plus side" percentage going for me.
And…I rarely turn down a beer with a friend!
Oh…and I aced American History!
This is my view from the edge of town.