A Story of a Thousand Marbles (an adaptation*)
Once there was a young woman. Well, she wasn't as young as she used to be...she was actually near to that "momentous" birthday. Forty. But, when she looked at the life around her, she still felt relatively young. She was in good health, had a good marriage and good friends, and she had three daughters. She could still do a cartwheel and knew how to laugh at life.
But, as the days and months went by, even amidst her happiness, she knew that life was going by faster and faster. She saw it in her oldest daughter, now almost a junior in high school. She saw it in the fact that her youngest, a four-year-old, seemed to grow faster than her two others ever did.
And, life was often a whirlwind. She'd run from here to there, and back again. Some nights she'd lie in bed and wonder where the day had gone. And life was often frustrating. Although she lived joyfully, she also struggled with impatience and "grumpyness." She'd often think of things she'd said or an attitude she'd displayed and wish she could take it back. "I shouldn't have responded that way to my husband," she'd think and would remember what her grandmother always told her ... "Life is too short and it goes by too quickly."
One morning, after she'd taken a daughter to practice and run errands (to the grocery store, the water company, to the car shop), she decided to stop in for a quick cup of coffee at a local restaurant. She had deadlines and jobs waiting for her at home, and needed a little bit of a break.
She sat down at the restaurant, coffee cup in hand, and soon found herself smiling at an older gentleman next to her. He was in his 70s, she imagined, but had a twinkle in his eyes that made him look even younger.
Soon, they were talking (as you often do in the South, with strangers) and she had told him all about her life. He quickly knew about her family, her work, and her feeling that life was passing by.
And that's when he told her his story:
"Many years ago, I heard on the news that the average man lives to be about 75-years-old. When I heard that, I sat down and did a little arithmetic. We have 52 Saturdays in every year. I discovered that if the average person lives to 75, he or she has 3900 Saturdays in their entire lifetime.
I was fifty-five years old when I discovered this and by then I had already lived through over twenty-eight-hundred Saturdays. So, I got to thinking. If I did indeed live to be 75, I only had a thousand Saturdays left to enjoy.
So, that afternoon, I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. It took me all day, going to toy stores all over town, to round up 1000 marbles but I did it. Then I took them and put them in a large plastic shoebox, and set that box next to my workshop in my garage. And every Saturday since then, I've taken one marble out and thrown it away.
I have found that, by watching those marbles diminish, I realize how quickly time goes by and I now focus more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on earth run out to help get your priorities straight."
By now, the young woman was lightly crying. She smiled at the older man, nodding her head. Yes, I understand, she thought.
"But let me tell you the rest of this story," the man continued.
"This morning, I took the very last marble out of the shoebox. I am now 75-years-old and I have lived all the years I am supposed to live. But, I have been given a gift. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And I'm going to make the best of it."
The woman hugged the man tightly and thanked him for being there that morning. She knew that he had been put there for a reason.
And as she drove home, she began figuring things out in her mind. She would be 40 next month, which meant she had already used up 2080 Saturdays. But, she still had 35 years to go (if she lived to be 75), which added up to a whopping 1820 Saturdays left. (And she smiled as she thought of her great grandmother who'd lived to be almost 104; if she got her genes, who knew how many marbles she'd have in her own shoebox?)
She began thinking of life as a big box of marbles and realized that, yes, she'd already used up a lot of her days. But, in a sense, life was just beginning and there were so many more memories to make, so many more Saturdays (and Tuesdays, and Thursdays...) to spend on things that really mattered.
*This story is not a true story. It didn't happen to me. It is adapted from a story I heard in church this past Sunday. I rewrote it a little bit, adapting it to my lifestyle and circumstances. I will be 40 in August, so I have around 1840 Saturdays left (unless I live to be as old as my Mama Stuart!).
How am I going to spend those days? What am I going to do with my "marbles" in my shoebox?
And so, for your Random Tuesday question for today...
How many "marbles" do you have left in your life? (take your years left until 75 and multiply by 52). What are you going to do with them?