Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Lest I forget, before I lose them...

...here is a picture of my marbles.

On Losing Ones Marbles...

I imagine we are almost all familiar with the term "He lost his marbles", or the other "she is as sharp as a marble", but I have to wonder how many of us realize the sharp truth that can be discovered in a group of marbles as we lose them one at a time. It is something to think about, in fact for many of us there could be years of thought involved in the process, but I never gave it much thought at all.

The truth be told, I never gave it any thought, that is until yesterday. Then the real significance of losing one's marbles hit me like a ton of bricks, or should I say like one thousand marbles, and I realized that a marble indeed can be extremely sharp - especially in its loss.

No I am not talking about losing ones smarts or sanity, I am talking about something that may be more precious at least to those of us who have our wits about us whether or not we are exactly sane. You see, yesterday, I received an email from a friend of mine, and a person who is a good man at that - at being a friend. In his email was a story about a man and his marbles, one thousand of them to be exact, or maybe give or take a few; the exact number probably does not matter all that much. I don't know who wrote that story, if it was my friend or someone else. I tend to think it was passed onto him, and he passed it onto me, just as I then passed it onto my other friends. Whoever it was that wrote it though was a wise person. I hope that person does not mind me sharing it with you, all of you, because it is something that should be shared, something from which each of us should learn, and maybe something that will change the way each of us lives our lives if only because of the sharpness that a thousand marbles can bring to us as we lose them one at a time.

Unless you have heard the story before, then by now you must surely be wondering about what I am writing, and maybe you are wondering if I have lost my marbles. The truth is quite to the contrary you see, as last night, I did some math, and I went out and I bought just over a thousand marbles, exactly 1,145 of them (at least those that were not cracked in the 12 bags of them that I bought - I had been hoping for closer to 1,200). Then I put them in a 2 1/2 gallon fish tank I had on hand; the marbles filled that tank only just about half way.

I am 51 years old, and soon, all too soon when this coming weekend rolls around, it will be time for me to start losing them one at a time. As I said though - you are probably scratching your heads by now - wondering what this is all about - so let me just show you the story that my friend sent to me; then you can either laugh at me and call me a fool, or you can go out and by some marbles for yourself.


A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage 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 whom-ever 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. It's too bad you missed your daughter's "dance recital" he continued. "Let me tell you something that has helped me keep 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 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 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. This is a 75 Year old Man, 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 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. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles."


That was the story I received in the email from my friend, but not the end of my friend's email to me. The email continued on just a bit with the following:

"A friend sent this to me, so I to you, my friend.

And so, as one smart bear once said..."If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you." - Winnie the Pooh.

Pass this on to all of your FRIENDS, even if it means sending it to the person that sent it to you."

Then the story of the marbles really sank home. I am 51 years old, and if I live to be an average age, that means I have somewhat less than 24 years, exactly 23 years and 10 months from today, by my reckoning. Or in other words, I have about 1,188 weekends or marbles to go. It is a sobering thought, but not too sobering yet, I have a lot of marbles to go; although I am sure it may become more so as I begin to lose my marbles. Hopefully it will not be too bad, and I will lose each of those marbles with aplomb, and enjoy losing them at that, if only because they will help make living my life so much more precious.

Are you headed to the toy store yet? If so, give it a second thought! Toy store marbles can be expensive so I got my marbles at a .99 cent store. I want my money to go to better and more fun things as I lose my marbles, so maybe this weekend I'll take my wife out to breakfast and buy her flowers. That should be a good start to losing my marbles!

Thanks Thor for sending me that story; losing my marbles may just help me to make things a whole lot better in my life, and in the lives of my loved ones. Time and the marble count will tell. Thanks again my friend.

All the best,

Glenn B