A group of students who had recently graduated were invited to afternoon tea by their college department head, a favorite professor who most students enjoyed in their final year. Not everyone invited could make it and some chose to stay home, but there were still about ten graduates gathered in the comfortable living room.
Within minutes, conversation turned to the stress everyone was feeling about work and life since graduation, with everyone talking about what, if anything, they were doing these days.
The professor rang a small bell to gather everyone’s attention, then directed them through to his large dining room. The main table held several small trays of desserts and delicate snacks alongside a massive buffet with hot tea, cream and sugar, and an assortment of cups and mugs that the professor had collected over the years— some delicate porcelain with a saucer, some vintage glass, and some plain pottery mugs.
When everyone was finally seated at the table, the professor observed: “I see you have all chosen the nicer looking cups.”
He smiled and looked around the table and switched to his beloved classroom voice.
“While it’s normal for you to want only the best, that’s also the source of your stress. What you really wanted was tea, not the cup, but you still went for the best cups, and some of you are even eyeing each other’s cup!
If life is the tea, then jobs, money and status in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life.
Don’t let the cups drive you. Enjoy the tea.”