I sat attentive and ready on the first day of Philosophy 101, and I knew I would be the best student. Sitting in the front row with my eyes, ears and notepad open, I was excited to ponder, question and deliberate my way to an A+.

The professor, wearing a cross around his neck and a bright-colored polo, walked through the door carrying a large glass jar with three rocks inside.

“Is this jar full?” he asked the class. Shooting my hand up first, I was quick to answer, “Sure is, professor!”

“Not quite,” he explained, pulling a bag of pebbles out of his drawer and pouring them in. “How about now?”

I decided to stay quiet, as did the rest of the class. “Again, no” he shared, as he poured sand into the jar, filling in the small cracks between the pebbles.

“Full,” he shared as he smiled at us. “And you know what that precious jar represents?”

Looking back and forth, no one opened their mouths. “Our life?” I tried.

“Bingo, blondie.” And with that, I closed my notebook, nodded my head, and realized this was no ordinary class.

The professor went on to explain the rocks represent the most important parts of our lives, such as family, maintaining health, and faith. If the pebbles and sand were lost, the jar would still be mainly full and life would still have meaning.

The pebbles resemble things that matter but aren’t pivotal, such as a particular job or house or friend or hobby. These pebbles will come and go, and they don’t radically change our life’s meaning.

Lastly, the sand resembles material things or actions that fill our time, such as social media or television or getting our nails done. These don’t collectively add much to our lives and are generally done to pass time.

The analogy of the exercise is simple. If we started with sand, we wouldn’t have room for the pebbles, and definitely not the rocks. Likewise, if we spend the majority of our time on unimportant things, our main priorities will not fit.

It’s been a few years since that class, and as a young woman living in Racine, it’s starting to make even more sense. On paper, my family, health and faith come first, but there are days when that isn’t the case. I get overly worried about pleasing a client at work, I over-commit myself to activities, or I don’t listen closely to those who matter most. But not anymore.

My challenge to all Racinians, including myself: sit down as a family, establish your “rocks,” your “pebbles,” and your “sand,” and create a plan.

Are you eating dinner in front of the television instead of the dinner table? Are you stressing about work while your children explain their school day? Are you buying fast food instead of a cooking a quick, healthy meal? Are you spending hours on social media or Netflix?

Join me, Racine, in keeping our rocks firmly in place. I’m even taking a week off from all social media and television to re-establish my priorities (who’s in?).

Strong families and strong people create a strong community. Let’s build on rock, not sand, Racine. Soon, our jars will feel fuller than ever.

Paige Weslaski, born and raised in Racine, is a Pepperdine University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in leadership. Paige, 25, has lived in New York, Los Angeles, Europe and Central America, and is now working as an account executive of a marketing company in Downtown Racine. She may be reached via email at Paige@ImageManagement.com.

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