After the flight attendant finished the usual safety instructions -- fasten your seat belt, reach under your seat for the life vest but don't open it in the cabin, put on your own oxygen mast first -- he told a story.
"I'm going to tell a story," he said. Generally by the time the safety instructions begin I'm finished -- ready to get off of the plane. I listened to the story, though, and I'm glad I did.
This is the Jet Blue guy's story. Realize, of course, that I've made it my own and am telling it myself with my own twists. It's his story, though.
Picture a glass container. The container is round and perhaps a foot high and maybe a foot in diameter. Imagine filling it with golf balls. When you've put all of the golf balls inside it that the container will hold, ask yourself if the container is full. It will look full but if you start dropping little pebbles into it -- pebbles like we put in fish tanks or around plants -- you'll find that when the container just held the golf balls it wasn't full at all because there's lots more room for pebbles. When the container won't hold anymore pebbles, ask yourself if it is full. It will look full but if you start pouring sand into it you will discover that even with the golf balls and pebbles, there's still a lot of room of sand. When you've put all of the sand in the container that it will hold, ask yourself if the container is full. It will look full but if you start pouring water into it, you'll discover that there's still plenty of room for water. Keep pouring until the water spills over the side of the container which is now pretty full of golf balls, pebbles, sand and water.
Would the container have held as much if you'd put the water in first? Or the sand? Or even the pebbles? Of course, the answer is no.
The passengers were then asked to consider that the golf balls represent what is most important to us in our lives -- health, family, dreams. We were then asked to consider what the pebbles, the sand, and the water represent. I chose to think that the water represents anger and bitterness and all the negative stuff we or at least I hang on to like it was worth something. I'm still thinking about the sand and the pebbles and what they represent in my life.
The flight attendant then asked us to imagine where the golf balls would be if we first filled the container with the water or the pebbles or the sand.
And then the plane took off.
I'm still thinking about that unexpected story and those amazing questions.