“Life is like a grindstone. It can polish you or pulverize you. It all depends on how you position yourself.” — Anonymous
Some time ago, I found myself positioned on a great adventure to the north in Glacier National Park and into Canada. It was some of the most beautiful and inspiring landscape I have ever seen. It has recently suffered from some devastating forest fires, but nature will take care of it and I trust it will be returned to its former glory.
One morning in the Prince of Wales Hotel, I visited with a gentleman who decided to take his son on the first trip of his life. I asked him why he had waited so long to take a vacation. He shrugged his shoulders and stated he had misplaced his priorities and was going to make it up before it was too late. I thought how wonderful it was that he made the choice to create memories with his son.
Many of us wait far too long before we begin to understand the importance of memories in a child’s life. I look back and smile at what I learned at the Seattle and New York’s World’s Fair. I traveled across our great nation on the Union Pacific Railroad to see our nation’s capital and learn of its history. I visited Disneyland the year it opened. I traveled to Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands New Mexico as well as crossing the river into Mexico and Juarez to shop at the old marketplace. From Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon, the memories of my youth and trips piled up in my heart.
Many people think of themselves as standing wearily and helplessly at the center of a circle bristling with tasks, burdens, problems, annoyances and responsibilities rushing in upon them. Many spend every minute of their day working on solutions to problems at work and never take the time to stop and smell the roses or recognize what is really important in their lives. Life becomes a huge balancing act between work, family, religion and a dozen other things.
At some point we all need to step back and ask, “What are the most important things in life and how can we add value to each and every day?” Where have you taken your children or grandchildren and what are the memories they will cherish from their childhood?
I love the story of the gentleman who spent the first 55 years of his life in a similar work mode. He worked a 60- to 70-hour workweek and lost his perspective on his life priorities. He missed his children’s games and recitals and was not a part of their lives. They were growing up with everything they needed, except a dad.
The older gentleman sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. Some people live more years and some less, but reasoned the average person lives about 75 years. So he sat down at his calculator and multiplied 75 times 52 and came up with 3,900, which is the number of Saturdays the average person has through their entire lifetime.
It took him until he was 55 years old to think about all the things he had missed and by this time, he had lived through more than 2,800 Saturdays. He got to thinking if he lived to be 75, he only had just over 1,000 Saturdays left to enjoy.
He chose to go to the nearest toy store and by every single marble they had. He ended up visiting three stores to round up 1,000 marbles. He then took them home and put them inside a large clear plastic container right next to his radio in his at-home workshop . Every Saturday since then, he took out one marble and threw it away. He found that by watching the marbles diminish, he focused more on the important things in life.
At the conclusion of our story, the old gentleman invited his lovely wife out for breakfast. He had gone to the marble jar and had reached the very last marble. He figured if he made it to the next Saturday then God had blessed him with a little extra time to be with those he loved. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help you put life’s priorities in order.