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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 whomever 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

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 sack 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. 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 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....
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