Note to grads: Don’t sweat small stuff

By Karl Terry: Freedpm Newspapers

For me, high school graduation was extremely anti-climatic. I was glad high school was over and ready to move on to something new.
Little did I know 30 years ago just how many graduations I would attend over my lifetime. I was focused on getting that one done so I would never have to sit through another one.

Over the years as a community journalist I figure I’ve attended 30 to 40 graduations — covering them through my words or photos. This year I’ve been to two graduations and one Maypole and I only have one more left.

All those graduations had one thing in common — at least one speaker with advice to give to the graduates. Pretty soon you notice some of the speeches begin to repeat themselves. They’re being recycled somehow.

For sale on eBay: one graduation speech — only used once.

One of the best of these recycled speeches is the one about the professor and the mayonnaise jar. There’s probably somebody out there who hasn’t heard it, so in the spirit of the graduation season I repeat it here.

A philosophy (or physics) professor stood before his class one day with a large empty mayonnaise jar. While they watched, he began to put golf balls in it until no more balls would fit in the jar. He asked the students if the jar was full and they all agreed it was.

Next the professor took a sack of pebbles and shook them into the jar, filling the empty space around the golf balls. When he was done, the students agreed the jar was definitely full.

Then he took sand and poured it into the jar, shaking it down until the empty space in the jar appeared full. Once again the students exclaimed, now the jar was really full.

The professor wasn’t done, though, as he pulled out two cans of beer and poured them into the jar, causing laughter in the classroom as he once again fooled the students.

The professor then proceeded to tell the students that the golf balls represented the important things in their life like family, children, health and friends. If all else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like a job, house or car. The sand is the small stuff.
If you put the sand into the jar first, there’s no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The beer, the professor said goes to show you that no matter how full your life may be, there’s always room for a couple of beers.

Karl Terry is managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481, ext. 33 or e-mail: