The man grunted with irritation as he stomped across the sidewalk on his way to work. His frustration only ballooned when he thought about the argument with his wife, his son’s computer crashing, daughter’s below average math grade, the leaky faucet, the car’s battery needing a jump and now he was running late. He scrolled through his phone as a way to occupy his mind or maybe it was to divert his thoughts from the stress waiting for him at the office. The headlines slid by with a swipe of his thumb—pandemic, fraud, conspiracy, economy, demonstrations…
He tripped on something and lost grip on his cell. The phone smacked the concrete with a solid thud and rolled to a stop only to expose a large crack across the screen.
His anger exploded. “Why me!” He picked up the phone and tried to turn it on. The screen remained dark and lifeless. “I can’t take…!”
The man was so furious that he cocked his arm to throw the phone but stopped when he noticed and old native man sitting on a nearby park bench. A large, glass jar was perched by his feet.
Jorge looked at the angered man. “You can’t take, what?”
“I can’t take it anymore,” the man quickly answered. “And I can’t give anymore either. I’ve had enough of everyone’s…”
Jorge remained unmoved. “You can,” he said simply.
“No, I can’t.” The man sat on the far edge of the bench with shoulders slumped in defeat.
“You can,” Jorge repeated. “You just need...”
“How could you possibly know anything that I’m going through.”
“Then, you don’t know what I need.”
“I think I do,” Jorge said. “If you’ll only oblige this old man, then you might understand what I mean.”
The man skeptically looked at Jorge. “I think you don’t”
Jorge tapped the glass jar. “Fill this with those.” He pointed to a nearby pile of rocks.
The man scoffed at such a senseless act, but humored the old man’s request. He quickly filled the container. “I’m done,” he said somewhat proudly.
“It can still fit more,” Jorge said.
“No it can’t,” the man insisted. “I’ve put as many rocks in there as I can.”
“What about those?” Jorge gestured toward a pile of pea gravel. “Those will fit between the larger rocks.”
The man sighed. “Fine.” He grabbed several handfuls of pebbles and filled the jar. “Now it’s full. There’s no way it’ll take anymore.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” the man said firmly.
“There’s still room.” Jorge pointed at a sandbox.
The man scratched his temple. He eventually wandered over to the box and filled his cupped hands with sand. The tiny grains made their way between the rocks and pebbles. When he had finally filled the jar, the man patted the opening. “Now it’s completely full.”
“No it’s not.” Jorge handed the man a plastic cup. “Get some water from that stream and pour it into the jar.”
The man rubbed his chin when he realized what would happen. He filled the cup and then poured the water into the container until the liquid reached the rim.
By now the man’s anger had dissipated. The frustration and stress of everything that had happened to him that morning slipped past the horizon of his memory.
Jorge slowly nodded. “When you think you can’t take anymore, there will always be room so you can.” He paused. “You can fill yourself with happiness, kindness and love or with anger, selfishness and hate. Whichever you choose, it will be viewed as an extension of yourself. In the end how you fill your container is your choice and yours alone to make.”
I still believe the majority of us want to be in this together, let’s not be too close together while we’re all in it.