On Sunday afternoon, I received some disturbing news somewhere between the fruit platter & my organic scottish salmon benedict. I only thank the Lord that I had a cup of coffee (with skim milk) in hand to help me digest it. I was discussing the light pieces post with Jack over brunch— it got deep pretty fast, people. We had just done yoga; our centers were enlightened. Anyway, Jack told me a very interesting story about a man who suddenly became very appreciative of the time he had left (on earth). I know what you’re probably thinking— he’s ill or maybe he lost someone in his life, but no. The story is better than that because nothing dramatic happened. He was out wasting time (instead of enjoying his family) when he sat down to calculate the amount of Saturdays he had left to live. Assuming “the end” would be around the age of 75, he calculated 1,300 Saturdays left in his life. Immediately, the man went to a toy store (or a couple) and bought 1,300 marbles and 2 jars. Each Saturday (for the rest of this life), he would pass one marble from the 1st to the 2nd jar. He kept this as a constant reminder of how important it was that he value every moment spent in his life with the people he loved.
To give you a little perspective, Jack and I calculated that there are only 12 Sundays left before fall returns. We’ve made it a point to try and spend Sundays together; we have found a great deal of peace and deep conversation in our recent activities. I know calculating the amount of Sundays left this summer may seem a bit dramatic, but it’s true. Furthermore, there are about 30 Saturdays left until the end of the year. As I began to calculate these numbers, I felt a rush in my spine. Life is happening, isn’t it? If we all had marbles to place into a second jar, I think we would have noticed that change between the two in the last few years. Are we enjoying them or just passing them over from one jar to the next?
After a series of simple adventures with Jack, we walked around the empty streets of the city way past your average Sunday bedtime (we have Memorial Day to thank for that). It was nearly 2am when I hopped on a cab to get home. To my surprise, there was an accident on the way. The cabbie said “someone died” under his breath as he proceeded to avoid the traffic. It was then that I was reminded of the marbles.
The trouble is, you think you have time. ~Buddha
We assume that we get until the age of 75, don’t we? We sometimes assume that we have all the time in the world to be who we want to be, to believe in something, to change, or to just… be happy, but we might not. There is no guarantee that you get to use up all of your marbles, is there?
Now, lets get something straight— this is not a post encouraging you to quit your job and buy a one way ticket to Hawaii to become a surfer or throw everything away to become a minor league baseball player because you were great in little league. That’s not what I am saying. I don’t think that the end road is really what the whole “life” thing is about. I think (in a wise narrator voice) that it’s about the awareness that everyday, we lose a marble. It’s in the knowing that today we are given 24 hours to be the person we want to be. It doesn’t matter to me if I ever publish, that’s not why I write. If I die tomorrow (and it will be very creepy if I do), I think I would die peacefully knowing that I was trying. I am open to what the world has to show me about myself. I’m receptive to its lessons and its turns; that to me is enough. We’re not here to pay taxes, buy expensive clothes, and go to overpriced dinners. We’re here to share a story like Jack’s over brunch with a friend. We’re here to find peace despite tough bosses, to find thrills despite our fears, and to create despite the obstacles. As corny as it may sound, we’re here to love. If we give enough care to our lives and each of the light pieces in our path, the value of the marbles will naturally work themselves out.
The marble story is not about adding pressure to suck the life out of life. The point is not to use up every hour of our day with intense meaning. It’s just about being awake to the passing of each day. It’s about taking care of each moment, of each marble.
So the question is… what are you using your marbles on? What will you spend it on today?