It turns out I’ve been incorrectly attributing the five balls of life quote until now!
Previously, I thought this quote came from James Patterson. But, thanks to Mark Turner’s investigative work, it looks like the original source is a 1991 Georgia Tech commencement speech by Brian Dyson (1).
Mark was even able to locate the original transcript of the speech in PDF form. The full speech is longer than this excerpt (which appears near the conclusion).
The Five Balls of Life: A Very Short Story about Balance
I would caution you that as intelligent and active participants in a dynamic society like America, you must bring balance into your lives.
Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them — work, family, health, friends and spirit — and you’re keeping all of these in the air.
You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.
But the other four balls — family, health, friends and spirit — are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same.
You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.— Brian Dyson
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