How many marbles do you have?
The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet
solitude that comes with being the first to rise, of 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 kitchen, 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 volume up on my radio in order to
listen to a Saturday morning talk show. I heard an older sounding chap with a
golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the
broadcasting business himself.
He was talking about "a thousand marbles" to someone named
"Tom". I was intrigued and sat down to listen to
what he had to say. "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
"You see, I sat down one day and did a little
arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some
live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five
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 fifty-five years old to think about all this in any
detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over
twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. "I got to thinking that if I lived to be
seventy-five, 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 right here in my workshop
next to the radio. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and
thrown it away.
"I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the
really 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 if I make it until next Saturday then God has blessed me with a
little extra time to be with my loved ones...... "It was nice to talk to
you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your loved ones, and I hope to meet
you again someday. Have a good morning!"
You could have heard a pin drop when he finished. Even the show's moderator
didn't have anything to say for a few moments. I guess he gave us all a lot to
think about. I had planned to do some work that morning, then go to the
gym. 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," I said.
" It has just been a
long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop
at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."