A Thousand Marbles
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 basement shack 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 whoever he
was talking with something about "a thousand marbles".
I was intrigued and stopped 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 thousand marbles." "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 the shack next to my gear. 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 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 QRT, 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
"What brought this on?" she asked with a smile.
"Oh, nothing special, it's 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."