I’m Down to Six Marbles

April 26, 2010
Discover a visual way to remind yourself that life is short and needs to be enjoyed. Buy some marbles.

marblesTo improve my skills with Vegas Movie Studio, I have been using Gordon White’s Learning Vegas tutorial program. The other day I noticed a new title within the list of video tutorials for members called “1,000 Marbles — A Must Read!”  So I read it and now must past it on to you.

Apparently the author is unknown, but if you know the real author, please let me know.

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the study with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it. I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles.” I was intrigued and stopped to listen.

“Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital.” He continued, “Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.”

“You see, I sat down one day and did a little math. The average person lives about 75 years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about 75 years. Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.” “Now, stick with me, Tom, I’m getting to the important part.” “It took me until I was 55 years old to think about all this in any detail”; he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over 2800 Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be 75, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.”

“So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out.” “I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focus more on the important things in life.” There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”

“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.” “It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. 75 year Old Man, this is K9NZQ, clear and going, good morning!”

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.” “What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a long time since we spent Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out?

I can imagine a fifteen-year-old teenager looking at a bowl of 3,120 marbles and assuming he has plenty of time to enjoy life. He has lots of Saturdays ahead of him and undoubtedly spends many of them doing things that us older-folk are afraid will shorten his life. But the reality is that if he’s fortunate to survive his reckless youth and catches the fever of accumulating material goods and rising to the top of the ladder of success, he may soon find himself with a dwindling bowl of marbles and little time to enjoy them.

I will admit that I can see the bottom of my bowl of marbles. Only six Saturdays before I turn 75. I realize that seems ancient to some of my readers and right-around-the-corner to others. However, that’s the truth. And I’m enjoying every Saturday (and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday) that I can. Then I look forward to adding marbles to the bowl.

Maybe I’ll be like my father-in-law who lived to be 99 — or 61, depending on whether you use his method for counting years or the standard system. You see, when he turned 80 he didn’t like the way the numbers were adding up, so he started subtracting a year each birthday. And I’m not certain but that his attitude made a difference in the length of his life.

2 thoughts on “I’m Down to Six Marbles

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