Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How Many Rocks Can Fit Into a Bucket?

Today I achieved a milestone in my life and in my writing -- I submitted a book proposal for a book describing the Sunwheel, or astronomically aligned stone circle, I have built on the U.Mass. Amherst campus. I have many ideas about books I want to write and publish, and it has been a real challenge to figure out how to manage my energy, take care of myself, engage in my healing, and also to work on the creative projects that are meaningful to me. I began working on this book and book proposal in 2004, so this stage of the project has been over 4 years in coming to fruition.

I was reminded recently of the parable about how many rocks can fit into a bucket. So here is how it goes...

If you have a bucket, and you fill it with fist-sized rocks, would you say that the bucket is full? Well, is it?

The answer is no, the bucket is not full. Because you can now add handfuls of pebbles, and these small rocks will fill in the spaces around the larger ones.

So after adding so many pebbles that they come up to the brim of the bucket, would you now say the bucket is full? What do you think?

The answer is no, it is still not full. Because now you can add handfuls of sand to fill in the holes around the pebbles.

So after adding sand to fill the bucket up to the brim, would you say the bucket is full now? Is it full yet?

The answer is still no, because you can pour water into the bucket, and it will fill the spaces between the grains of sand, all the way up to the brim.

NOW the bucket is full -- of rocks, and pebbles, and sand, and water.

Next, pour everything out, and then put things back into the bucket in a different order. First put in the water, then the sand, then the pebbles, and then the rocks. Will everything fit?

The answer is no, the large rocks will not fit into the bucket if the other things are put in first.

The metaphor here for me about life is that if there are some big things I want to do in my life -- and for me writing a book is one of them -- these won't fit into my days unless I put them in first, prioritize them, make time for them. If I spend my time doing all the little things that are asking for my time and attention, and there are an almost infinite number of such things, then there are not the blocks of time left for the big projects.

So as I was finishing my book proposal, and making time to write everyday, I was reminded of fitting the rocks into the bucket.

And some days, I even dream about having a bigger bucket!

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