Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Life is of a finite nature. But, still we live as if it is infinite. We take so many things for granted. We put so many things off to "tomorrow". If only there was a way to drive home the point that life is finite, we think.
Last night my wife was watching a contest on Food Network in which chefs were racing against the clock to prepare elaborate desserts. They had a huge digital clock showing the time remaining, and everyone knew what they had to do, and were concentrating on achieving it. If only, life was like that, it would set our priorities right.
I recently stumbled upon this death clock. The idea is to show the finite nature of our lives, but fails miserably in driving the point home. The main reason being that human beings have a hard time comprehending huge numbers. A classic example is that of smokers. A smoker is told that if he continues to smoke, his life expectancy will be reduced by 2 years (say). His first response: so, what? If you tell the same person that drinking rat poison will kill him in 30 mins (say), he will immediately swear to keep away from rat poison. See the difference: A few years lopped off somewhere in the unfathomable future is not of great concern, but something in the foreseeable future (like today) is taken quite seriously.
In contrast (to the death clock), consider this story (author unknown), and see how it drives home the point:
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 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 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 1,000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of 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 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."
You could have heard a pin drop on the radio 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."
Make today count for every one you waste can never be lived again.