Monday, October 15, 2018

Big Rocks

There is a mossy rock in the hollow behind our barn. It’s nestled under a canopy of oak, hickory, and pine trees. It’s a peaceful place. When my life gets crazy, I carve out enough time to visit the rock and think for a while. The sound of songbirds and whisper of the wind in the trees helps me find perspective – to put my life into balance. I don’t visit that big rock enough.
These past few weeks it seems I’ve spent my all my time juggling. The to-do list in my daily planner looks thicker than the U.S. tax code. Each time I strike one thing off, three more appear at the bottom. It seems the more my life gets out of balance, the more daunting the list becomes. It’s a pattern that repeats every few years. 
Just when I’m at the point of jabbing an icepick into my eye, I do a mental reset and go back to the basics. I know how to handle situations like this, but sometimes life and logic get tangled up.
Jilda and I took a class several years ago that put things into perspective. It was a Stephen Covey class entitled What Matters Most. He did an exercise with a volunteer from the audience that drove his concepts home.
On the podium was a bucket. Beside that were a few pounds of sand, some gravel, and some large rocks with things written on them like family, health, education, work life, money, and spirituality. The gravel represented things that weren’t as important but seemed urgent. The sand represented things that weren’t important but were URGENT!
He asked the volunteer to pour the sand into the bucket and then asked them to put in the gravel. Lastly, he asked them to fit the big rocks into the container. 
No matter how hard the volunteer tried, they could not fit the bigger rocks into the container. They simply would not fit. The volunteer had to leave the rocks representing family, health, or education out of the bucket. That bucket represented our lives. 
When it was obvious that all the rocks wouldn’t fit into the bucket, he pulled out another bucket. This time he had the volunteer put the big rocks in first. Then they poured in the gravel, followed by the sand. This time they all fit. The key was to put the big rocks in first.
This exercise made a tremendous impression on both Jilda and me. We’re both great at putting out fires. In fact, we are professionals. But so many of those fires are like candles that the wind will blow out in time. 
This afternoon, I wandered down to my big mossy rock and spent some time meditating on the big rocks in my life. When I got home, I scanned my to-do list and moved about 90 percent of them to my “Ain’t Gonna Happen” list. 
I already feel more in balance.


  1. Good to hear.
    And even a photo of that rock provides heart balm on this side of the world.

  2. I have often thought about starting a planner. I seen some digital planners online that are awesome but they cost and I’m not sure I’d use one that much. Do you use it for blogging too?

  3. Oh yes, it is good to remember the important things and then everything else does seem to fall in place. Living a balance life isn't easy but not impossible. That lesson learned about the rocks is a good one and so applicable in every day life.

  4. I need to start an "ain't gonna happen" list! Loved this analogy of the rocks!

  5. Anonymous11:51 AM

    I think we all need an "ain't gonna happen" list!!

  6. Love the big mossy rock. The "ain't gonna happen" list is genius.

  7. Yeah I could make a long ain't gonna happen list

  8. How very true. I love this and was shown this at a conference once. It bears reminding.


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