A Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers

Before you read what’s next, you need to know I have been fortunate not to have had any significant family tragedies and dramas. You also should know I live halfway around the world from family and friends when I left North America to live in Sydney, Australia over a decade ago.

Over the years, I have traveled around-the-world dropping by my home town of Montreal (and Toronto) to see friends and family. I don’t know about you, but time sure seems to have a way of passing quickly as we get older…

Anyway, in recent years, I’ve lost some dear friends to breast cancer and other ailments and they’ve all shared the same realisations, understanding, philosophy that the metaphoric parable below illustrates so well.

Do with it what you may, but rest assured of one thing:

Something left unsaid is something left undone.

My rule of thumb is simple. If you can live with taking it to your grave with it unsaid, that’s OK, otherwise get in touch and tell those closest and dearest to you how you feel. I promise you it will be life changing.

If you need a little motivation to have the guts to open your heart (and mouth), go out and rent or buy the movie City Of Angels starring Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage. I am sure it will convince you of the risk of counting on a second chance to make things right.

A Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers

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 two beers story.  It goes like this.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

Mayonnaise Jar And Two Beers

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

Mayonnaise Jar And Two Beers

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was.

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 beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.

Mayonnaise Jar And Two Beers

The students laughed!

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognise that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite 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 your spouse/partner out to dinner.

Play another 18 holes of golf.

There will always be time to clean the house, fix the disposal or deal with things from your job.

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 and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’

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.

Please share this with someone you care about, send them the link to this blog post,
it might just change their lives, it sure has mine.

2 Responses to “A Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers”

  • Great post Marc

    It is important to make room for the important things in life. I like the idea that making time to spend time with friends and family is always on the agenda and the rest of life fits around that.

    Ray Keefe
    Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd
    Casey Business of the Year 2010
    Industrial Electronics Future Award Winner 2011
    Environment Future Award Winner 2012
    Communications and Networking Future Award Winner 2012
    Award Winning Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development

  • A great message and thought provoking post that makes one take count of what is important in life.

    In light of the above, A big thank you Marc for all that you have helped me with over the years and in discovering new and better ways to look at things.

    “onward and upward” I believe is the way to go.


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