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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 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 "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 weeks 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 really
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. So, 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 and we all want
is a little more time.  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 moderator
of the show 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, 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."