Time: The Most Precious Currency

Time has come today
Young hearts can go their way
Can’t put it off another day
I don’t care what others say
— The Chambers Brothers, 1967

In January, I wrote an article about my two jars of marbles that mark the passage of time, one marble for each Saturday until I reach the age of 80.  Every Saturday, I move a marble from the one jar to the other.


Two jars of marbles

In the picture above, taken in January 2012, the jar on the left is the weeks past, and the jar on the right is the weeks ahead until I’m 80.  I’ve been doing this since I was 39.  This ritual helps me to be conscious of the passage of time in a visual way, as I watch the marbles move week after week, year after year, from one jar to the other.


Two marble tins

When I packed for the trip in January, I brought 50 marbles for the remainder of the weeks in 2012.  I placed them in two separate Altoids tins, one labeled “Weeks Past,” and the other labeled “Weeks Left.”


Time passing by

Each Saturday during the trip, I have moved a marble from the “Weeks Left” tin to the “Weeks Past” tin.  The picture above shows the current state of my marbles.  There are just 9 marbles left in the “Weeks Left” tin, representing the 9 weeks left in 2012.

I think back to how I felt at the beginning of our trip.  The “Weeks Past” tin rattled loudly with just a few marbles inside the nearly empty tin.  Meanwhile, the “Weeks Left” tin was so full of marbles that they formed two layers.  I joyfully moved the marbles each Saturday as I could see with my own eyes that we had many wonderful weeks to look forward to on our trip.

Around June, I started to get leery as each Saturday dawned.  I noticed the “Weeks Past” tin starting to fill up with marbles.  It didn’t ring empty with that hollow sound anymore.  It  weighed almost as much as the “Weeks Left” tin.  I opened the two tins and frowned.  I picked up a “Weeks Left” marble and paused, thinking about the parks and hikes of the past week before dropping it into the “Weeks Past” tin.  Another week gone by, another glorious week.

In September, I started to avoid moving the marbles.  It was sometimes Tuesday, three days late, when I finally moved that week’s marble from the “Weeks Left” to the “Weeks Past” tin.  It wasn’t that I forgot.  I thought of that week’s marble several times on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but somehow I let something distract me.  I suppose I just didn’t want to move the marble.  It wasn’t that I thought I could stop time just by not moving a silly marble.  Some small part of me just didn’t want to see so few marbles remaining and know that it meant our trip was coming to an end.

Tomorrow is the first of November.  Only 9 marbles left.  Each and every Saturday, I stop, if just for a moment, and think about the passage of time.  Time is and will always be the most precious currency in all of life.  Time waits for no one.  Time cannot be saved or slowed down or turned back or undone.  Do what means the most to you now, as time marches on and later may be too late.

Time Has Come Today!

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