Thursday, September 13, 2007

Losing Your Marbles!

This morning, like most mornings, I woke up early. I listened to some segments of Morning Edition on one of my favorite public radio stations, read more of an interesting book, a novel, about the Ford Motor Company that I'm talking with the author about turning into an audio book (one of the various things I do in my Working Free lifestyle) and checked my e-mail. I did all this before climbing out of bed and before breakfast. In my e-mail were a couple messages from my long time friend (and a fellow Working Free colleague), Brian Morris from Auckland, NZ. Brian and I have been friends since the mid 1980's when we met through an ad I had placed in Success Unlimited magazine advertising my monthly audio cassette magazine, Successtrax. Over a year or two of corresponding by mail (it took forever back in those days) Brian convinced me to license him to market and distribute SuccessTrax in NZ. We'd never met in person - but somehow I trusted him and he trusted me and we shook hands across about 9000 miles and we've been like brothers since that time. More about Brian in the future and I'm sure he'll be contributing to this blog as time passes. He's a prolific writer, successful in business and one who has been working free most of his life.

At any rate, Brian sent me the following story this morning. I had read this story before, but not in the same context as below. However, since Brian knew that I've been a licensed ham radio operator most of my life (first licensed at age 14 and continuously licensed since then - nearly 50 years) he instinctively knew I'd read it. There is an important message here for everyone and there are direct implications to working and living free. So, read and learn about losing your marbles.


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 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.


Think about it! Are you losing your marbles or are you enjoying using your marbles? Have a great day . . .

Ed Helvey
The Virginia Sound Man

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