Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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?


Jeff said...

You and I are in the same place with the 1,820 Saturdays left....although for me 40 is tomorrow (so this is a great post to read on my Birthday eve).

What am I going to do? Who knows. I hope a lot of it is meaningful and that a good portion of it is fun too. For sure it must be something I don't look back on and feel like I wasted time.

Lynilu said...

According to that formula I have just 572 left. However, I've already promised (threatened?) my children that I plan to live into my 80's, 90's and probably even 100's. And what do I plan for those Sundays? Just what I do with every day possible .... in the last three years I've really tried to live every day with experiencing any new thing I can, enjoying meeting people, seeing things I've not noticed before, smelling or hearing or feeling everything around me. I don't succeed every day, but when I realized how much of life I'd already missed out on, I decided to make up for that.

I'm enjoying life with a zest. I hope when I'm 95, I'm still able to bring tears, ruffled nerves, giggles and grins to my kids and grandkids!

What a marvelous post, Cheryl!!

Anonymous said...



hippochick said...

Wow!! If I only have 624 Saturdays left I had better start writing if I'm going to finish my book.

In the meantime, I'm doing my best to live every day ro rhe fullest.

~hippo hugs~

Nnairda's said...

What a poignant post!

I have 1924 left and today I began to appreciate the gift of life just a little bit more.


LOL!!! Bob Bob

Gin said...

I love this post, Cheryl. You always have a great way of putting things.

let's see. It looks like I have around 1930 left

Adrienne said...

Awww, what a great, great post!

Kari (GrannySkywalker) said...

Maybe I should do my dad a shoebox full of marbles. He's 68 this year and has convinced himself that his life is almost over. It's so sad. There's so much more he could do, if only he'd believe it. I can't seem to convince him that 68 isn't the end of the road these days....

Kathy said...

WOW! GREAT post! It sure does make you think about how you are living your life!

I would have 1,716 Saturdays left. I really do need to get out there, and experience life more than I do. I have big time "Hermit" tendencies and have to "force" myself out of the house sometimes.

Honestly, our Saturday's have become shopping and home improvement days! That's not much FUN! LOL!

Mississippi Songbird said...

I guess I have 1560 marbles left. I better make the most of them..lol
Thanks for the cute post today. Have a great evening!

Cheryl Wray said...

Jeff--HAPPY BIRTHDAY EVE!!!!!!!!! Can you BELIEVE we are 40?????!!!! Does not seem possible whatsoever!!!!

Lynilu--I know that YOU are living every day to the fullest. You are an inspiration tome!!

Bobby--LOL!!!!! You lost your marbles when you got married? I love it!!!!
(Gary could probably say the same thing about me!!)

Hippo--YES!!!! Start writing that book!!!

Adriann--It does make you think, doesn't it?

Cheryl Wray said...

Gin--Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Adrienne--When I heard it, I thought it a wonderful story!

Kari--That is sad. Your Dad is NOT old!!! He still has a lot of living to do!!

Kathy--I know you love life, though, and I think spending those Saturdays with your hubby is some wonderful time!! :-)

Songbird--You have a great evening too! (hugs)

Nina Diane said...

What am I going to do.....the same thing I've been doing...just enjoying life!

Loreluca said...

WOWSERS, Cheryl!!! you really left me thinking! This Thursday I'll be 39... and I DEFINITELY want to use my MARBLES wisely! I have 1872 Saturdays left... hope I get EVEN MORE!

Dawn Bibbs said...

Well Cheryl, let me just go on record and say...I lost my marbles a LONG time ago :-), lol. I'm by no means, making light of your story. As I KNOW it holds VERY true and it's definitely something worth giving thought to. But also like you, I had a relative, my Great Grandmother, Mama G, to live 3 months shy of her 104th birthday. Parts of me would love to live that long. And the other parts, not so much.

I will be 42 in November. And I just pray that EVERY day I have left here on earth, is lived like it's Saturday :-). We all seem to live for the weekend so we can do fun things...most specifically, Saturdays. So from now on, I'm gonna live like every day is Saturday. Woo Hoo!!!

Love ya!!!

Anonymous said...

Great post.

Lots to make you think about.

I also "lost"my marbles a long time ago. (Loved that comment from a few other people. ha ha)

Auburn Kat said...

That's a great post! I am reminded constantly that life is too short but not having my mother around, it's one of the reasons why I try and treat everyone I meet with respect and try and give them a break if they are having a day. It's so easy to get caught up in this or that and forget about the simple things in life.

Monogram Queen said...

Oh I can't think like that it just depresses me too much. I would get upset seeing the marbles diminish. However I do try to live each day to the fullest and be thankful for each moment on this earth.

NancyJones said...

Makes you think how you spend these precious moments doesnt it. I have my dr appt this morning in hopes I have plenty of errr marbles ? left. lol I am excited I am going to get to meet Adrienne today :) Hope you can drop by as well. Around 10 30/11 ish a.m? scrap etc. I went to mania yesterday and met India she is so sweet.
I can check something off my list is to meet my blogger/scrappy buddies.
Loved this post today, really makes you stop to think esp on the days I lay in bed cuz i just dont feel good when I could make myself get up and make a memory with my family.

Renee said...

What a wonderful story! Looks like 1889 for me.

Anonymous said...