Lost Your Marbles?

Remember CB radios? Breaker! Breaker! Well, before CB radio, there was ham radio. It started in the early 1900s and developed a tremendous following over the years. If you’ve ever seen a movie about the sinking of the Titanic, you’ll remember the crew sending an SOS to other ships requesting rescue. The radio they used will give you an idea of what a Ham radio looks like.

Both a strength and a weakness of the ham radio was the fact that operators could and often did listen in on conversations between other operators. I remember my grandfather doing exactly that for hours at a time. What began as a hobby for Gramps soon became a lifestyle that kept him joyfully occupied throughout his later years. He established a network of loyal friends from all over the world.

Reflecting back on the visual of my grandfather sitting at his ham radio with a content smile on his face chatting with friends, I’m reminded of a Generational Gem which we should all strongly consider.

3,900 Marbles

On a typical Saturday morning, a man, balancing a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and several warm chocolate chip cookies in the other, made his way to his home office for his habitual weekend session with his friends on his ham radio.

This particular day he decided to listen to a Saturday morning swapnet. In searching for the program, he 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.” He was intrigued and stopped to listen to the conversation.

“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 60 or 70 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 75 years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about 75 years.

“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52, and I came up with 3,900, 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 55 years old to think about all this in any detail,” he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over 2800 Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be 75, 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 1,000 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’s 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. Apparently, he gave everyone listening a lot to think about. The elderly gentleman who had been listening had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then was going to meet up with a few other “hams” to work on the next club newsletter.

Instead, he went upstairs and woke up his 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, I need to stop at a toy store to buy some marbles.”


About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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