I am the head and not the tail

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Do you ever feel like you are pushed around by an endless to-do list? Sometimes I feel like my days are led by this dictatorial and relentless piece of paper. The list is never finished; by the time the tasks are down to a few, a new list has sprung up on a different piece of paper, with a fresh supply of mountains to overcome or mundane tasks to fulfill. 

Growing up, I was told a powerful analogy that has stuck with me. It described two ways of filling a glass jar with sand, gravel, rocks and a jug of water and represents life’s priorities. With the first jar Bob put the water in first and then the sand, then, the pebbles. The sand settled at the bottom, filling half the jar and the pebbles sat on top. But by the time they were all in, there was no room for the rocks. However, Sally put the rocks in first. After that she poured in the pebbles, which fell into the spaces between the rocks. Then came the sand, filling in the nooks and crannies the pebbles couldn’t fill. Then came the water, seeping into every microscopic gap. Clever Sally, poor Bob.

Our lives are the jar and all the things inside the jar represent different things that fill our days. The rocks are the big things in our life; relationship with God, calling, vision, dreams, inventions, creativity. The sand is the mundanities of daily life- the emails, the washing up- important but endless. The water must be Facebook and Instagram. When you start with the impossible task of keeping up with what is happening all of our hundreds of friends lives or relentless to-do’s we will never have time for the dreams. But when we start with the big things and tackle the ‘mountains’ first, somehow the rest falls into the spaces between and gets done. Washing up becomes a welcome reprieve to pause and reflect and writing that email feels like a breeze having just written the latest section of your book. 

So I want to be the head and not the tail- to take life by the horns rather than be pushed around by its bottom. To purposefully place the rocks, rather than be saturated with sand. I want to dream, overcome, create, pursue the big things and look back at my life and marvel at the ‘impossible’ things and managed to do.

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