Losing Our Marbles

In the exercise of writing a weekly column, I have rarely missed a deadline. My publishers’ requirement to see fresh content each and every weekend has become a comfortable rhythm, and I have an established routine for planning, writing, and submitting these articles.

But this week, for the first time in my writing career, I blundered. While I didn’t miss the deadline for my February submissions, I did short my editors a complete week. The column for the last week of this month simply wasn’t there. Two words: Leap Year. I knew there would be an extra day on the calendar this year, but only after my deadline passed did I notice that February 29th fell on Saturday, creating an extra column for yours truly. 

Not remembering that extra Saturday in the past, I consulted some calculations. Since 1752, the year the British Empire finally accepted the current Gregorian calendar, Leap Day has only fallen on a Saturday, ten times. This year is only the second such occurrence in my entire lifetime. And while this created an additional column for me to write, it also has created something especially rare: An extra Saturday.

A busy man in midlife sat down one day and made calculations of his own: Based on the average lifespan, he realized that each person will get about 4,000 total Saturdays over the course of his or her lifetime. Thus, at his stage of life, he had only about a thousand Saturdays left. He went out immediately and bought a thousand marbles and poured them into a giant five-gallon bucket.

Every Saturday he would remove one of those marbles. Watching his collection – and his days – recede, focused him like no other time in his life. He gave himself fully to his family and closest relationships. He made changes in his career, committing only to work that mattered to him. He removed from his calendar and his life what only seemed to rob him of joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

Decades later, on one of those Saturday mornings, he met friends for coffee. For the first time he told them of his calculations, his marbles, and the difference this weekly practice had made in his life. He held up the last marble in his hand. “Today, I reached the bottom of the bucket,” he said with a smile, “so if I live until next Saturday, I’ll be living on bonus time. Who couldn’t use bonus time?” 

“All of us!” is the answer. We all want a few more days, a few more hours with the ones we love, or that extra Saturday to do with as we wish. Well, this Saturday is your day! And there will only be two more bonus Saturdays for the next century. So, while I appreciate you taking the time to read this extra column, get out there and make the most of your bonus day. We may all be slowly losing our marbles, but time well spent is never wasted or forgotten.

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