The Lesson of Five Balls


M. Saadat Noury
by M. Saadat Noury




American writer James Patterson in his 2001 novel of “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas” wrote that,

“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity, and you are keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls, family, health, friends and integrity, are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life”.


Those lines were also written by Brian G. Dyson (BGD) and he used them at Georgia Tech’s 172nd Commencement Address on September 6, 1991. BGD was the President and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprise at the time. In his Commencement Address, BGD noted that, “If you drop one of those balls, they will be irrevocably scuffed, damaged, and they will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life”. He then outlined the ways how to strive to balance the life:


1. Do not undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.

2. Do not set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.

3. Do not take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.

4. Do not let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live ALL the days of your life.

5. Do not give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying. 6. Do not be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us together.

7. Do not be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.

8. Do not shut love out of your life by saying it is impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings.

9. Do not run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you are going.

10. Do not forget that a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

11. Do not be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.

12. Do not use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way. Yesterday is History. Tomorrow is a Mystery. Today is a gift, and that’s why we call it the Present.


On the basis of the notes by Patterson and BGD, this author composed a Persian Poetry on the Lesson of the Five Balls, which can be read as follows:

د ر سی  ا ز پنج  توپ

زندگی جز زمین ورزش نیست/ که برآن پنج توپ در بازی ست
ابتدا کار ویاروفامیل است/ و سپس توپ ‌ها که در ذیل است
تندرستی که سبزوشادان است/ راستی چرخش اش  به میدان است
کارآن توپ_ اول بازی ست/ گاه سخت و گاه لاستیک است
گرزبازی دمی شود خارج/ بازگشت اش دوباره نزد یک است
چارتوپ دگرهمه ‌شیشه است/ شکننده، ظریف وباریک است
زندگی جز زمین ورزش نیست/ که برآن پنج توپ در بازی ست
آن زمان کز حکایت هرتوپ/ دل وجان گشت عالم و آگاه
شیوه ی تازه ای ‌شود مرسوم/ زندگانی به عدل یابد راه

  دکتر منوچهر سعا دت نوری

Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD


Dyson, B. G. (1991): Online Article on “The Lesson of the Five Balls”.

Saadat Noury, M. (2001): Online Persian Poetry on The Lesson of the Five Balls د رسی از پنج توپ

Patterson, J. (2001): Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, ed., Warner Books Edition, USA.

مجموعه ی گل غنچه های پندار


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با پوزش از نظر جا افتادگی، در سروده ی د ر سی ا ز پنج توپ ، بیت چهارم باید چنین خوانده شود:

کار، آن توپ_ اول بازی ست/ گاه سخت است و گاه لاستیک است