Living the Marble Life will teach you simple yet profound techniques to help you slow down life, pay attention to the here and now, and cherish and enrich each experience to gain greater fulfillment out of each moment. In addition, you will learn mindful exercises that will help you discover the true you harbored deep within.
Marble Life was born from a decade-long experiment and has evolved into a daily exercise that will revolutionize your way of living. It is a philosophy, a way of life, a technique, a life tool . . . a Life Appreciation System grounded in the idea that using a single object—in this case, a marble—can help you focus on exactly where you are in life and appreciate each moment for the gift that it is.
Through projection channeling, an object as small as a marble can work as a powerful, consistent, visual reminder that will help you readjust the spotlight on what is truly important, rather than repeatedly acting out old habits or behaviors simply because they feel familiar. The tools in Living the Marble Life will show you a new way to appreciate life and the people and the moments in your life.
Welcome to Marble Life. Your Life Appreciation System starts today!
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About the Author
David Becker is the president and founder of Blue Plate Media Services, a global media strategy, planning, and buying agency. He has written numerous articles on advertising, marketing, and media strategy and is a frequent speaker on consumer marketing. As an industry advocate for small and mid-sized companies navigating the shifting media landscape, he has guided over one hundred companies in launching new consumer products across North America. A recipient of New York’s “Young Entrepreneur of the Year,” David has successfully launched multiple businesses over the past thirty years and has invented, imported, and marketed consumer products for major retailers including Target, Federated Stores, and QVC. David lives in Summit, New Jersey, with his wife, two children, and two dogs. He lives his life one marble at a time.
Read an Excerpt
Living the Marble Life
A Weekly Exercise to Start Appreciating Life One Moment at a Time
By David G. Becker
Turning Stone PressCopyright © 2016 David G. Becker
All rights reserved.
Growing up, I was always busy. When I was a little kid, we'd play Kick the Can, Freeze Tag, and Curb Ball with a vengeance, in the street with the local neighborhood kids until the sun went down and darkness fell over our concocted playground. When I grew a little older, I learned that I could make money with odd jobs, including a paper route, sweeping the floor in a local salon, working retail, flipping burgers, performing magic, and helping my mother with her various businesses. As I grew even older, into young adulthood, there was always a business I wanted to start or a product I wanted to invent. I was intense. I had big lofty dreams. There were lots of projects and businesses. That's the subject for another book.
Time marched on. I started a family.
My daughter, when she was little, would always ask me to read her a story in bed. I would climb into her little white brass-piped Charles Rogers bed and read to her, because that's what dads are supposed to do. And because I wanted to have a different relationship with my daughter from the one I had had with my father. I wanted to know her. And I wanted her to know me. To really know me. That was the conscious me. The unconscious me was buried in my work and whatever project I was working on at the time. I began to notice a trend. A trend I wasn't happy about. My daughter, Anika, would walk into my small guest-room office and ask me to read to her. Or talk to her. Or listen to her. Or play with her. But I was so wrapped up in my project, in my thoughts, in myself, in my life, that I didn't make the time. "In a minute, honey. I'm busy changing the world."
This is about the time when my older sister, Caryn, shared with me that email about 1,000 Marbles. The main character in that story determines that he has only a set number of Saturdays left in his life — 1,000 to be exact — and to mark each Saturday, he goes out and buys a jar of 1,000 marbles. He takes one marble out of the jar each Saturday to show the passage of time. After all 1,000 marbles are gone, he begins to recognize each following Saturday as a special gift, a little extra time, and something to be cherished.
It was like catching a punch square on the chin. At that moment, my life changed.CHAPTER 2
My father, Elliott Robert Becker, born in 1926 in Brooklyn, New York, and a product of the Great Depression, was a good-looking man, as a young adult and as a senior. People said he looked like Ernest Hemingway. And he did. The resemblance was remarkable. He loved to dance. And play chess. And chart the stock market. After high school, he joined the Navy, where he served his country in World War II. I learned that he wanted to be a salesman. Hard for me to believe. He always seemed like the accountant that he became. I don't know if he was happy. I don't remember hearing him laugh.
My father died when he was seventy-three years old, on a cruise ship off the coast of Nice, dancing and eating and playing chess. He was the sweetest, smartest, most humble person I have ever known. I strive to be like him (but I often come up short). His mother, Frieda, was tough. An old-school disciplinarian. She would teach and rule by the belt, as my Grandfather Abraham (they called him A1) would sit silent. Grandpa A1 owned candy stores in Brooklyn. They moved often. He was a round man with a twinkle in his eye and a crooked smile. He didn't say much. My father loved him and often said he was the sweetest, most humble person he had ever known. But my father never really got to know him. Grandpa A1 died when he was seventy-three.
My father died when he was seventy-three years old. My grandpa A1 also died when he was seventy-three years old.
Now, here I was, forty years old. I thought of my father. And his father. And my mother. And my daughter. And my son. And my wife. And my sisters. And all of the moments in my life that I will never get back.
I took pen to paper and wrote a simple math problem. Seventy-three years minus forty years equals thirty-three years. Thirty-three years at fifty-two weeks equals 1,716 marbles. That's 1,716 weeks before my seventy-third birthday. I wanted to find a way to visually represent these 1,716 weeks until my seventy-third year, when I would be the same age as both my grandfather and my father when they passed. My thinking was profound. I jumped in my car, ran to a local arts and crafts store, and set out to find 1,716 marbles in different colors and sizes and textures. I also bought a big glass vase.
I raced home and scooped up my five-year-old daughter. We dumped all of the marbles on the carpeted floor and started to count them into piles of ten. We gathered ten piles of ten and pushed the small piles into larger piles of one hundred. We carefully, and I mean really carefully, counted, and then recounted, 1,716 marbles. The marbles of my life. I didn't want to get the count wrong (this is my life we are talking about). We then slowly rolled the marbles into the tilted glass vase, and then dropped them, one by one, marble by marble, pile by pile, clank by clank, into the vase until the 1,716th marble was resting comfortably atop a pile of wildly assorted colored marbles. My project was complete. I carried the marble-filled vase into the bowels of my bedroom closet, shimmied it across the carpet until it rested comfortably, peacefully, in its private, personal space. The marbles of my life, waiting to be spent.
This is where my spiritual journey took a 180-degree turn from the marble story my sister shared with me a few years earlier. In the story she shared, you were supposed to take out a marble every week with the purpose of watching the level of marbles slowly diminish, as in the days of our lives, so that you would see that any time over the allotted amount would be a gift. Instead, rather than focusing on the remaining, unspent marbles sitting idle in my jar of life, my mind focused, fixated, on the single selected marble, the marble of the moment, so that I could honor each moment as a gift, not just the ones above and beyond what I had calculated.
How I would choose to spend my first marble, and every marble in my jar of life, would ultimately define me, set my Life Appreciation System into motion, and shade and color the days of my life and the wide-ranging experiences that would make up my life.
My exercise was simple. Every Saturday morning for the next thirteen years and counting, I would religiously — or should I say spiritually, or maybe we'll just go with consciously — walk into my bedroom closet and blindly reach into my glass vase and pull out a single marble. I would look at it, roll it across my fingers, feel its weight, admire its beauty, give it a kiss, and project onto my marble who I wanted to be and what I wanted to accomplish this week. I would then place this very special marble into my right pocket.
Throughout the day and the ensuing week, I would hold my marble, marvel at my marble, roll my marble, interact with my marble, project on my marble, reflect on my marble, internalize my marble, and recognize its existence and its correlation to this exact, right-here-and-now moment in my life.
Every Friday (before my Saturday morning ritual), I would discard my marble. I would toss it away. Throw it out ... as that moment of time had passed. I would drop the used marble into the trash; throw it into the river; fling it onto the fairway; drop it into the street sewer; bounce it off the sidewalk; heave it into the trees; kick it into the leaves; flick it into nowhere; or just give it away. The discarding of my marble was just as profound as its selection ... maybe even more so. Saturday morning, first thing, I would go through the same exercise.
A new marble! A new day! A new experience!CHAPTER 3
Marble Life — The Object of Your Desire
According to Wikipedia, an object (something — some of Everything, the face of it) is a technical term in (modern) philosophy often used in contrast to the term subject. A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed.
So, for this example, we are the observer of our life.
An object is anything we can think about, touch, or talk about. It is an entity, like a pyramid, an apple, a shoe, a stone, or a marble. An object refers to any definite being or thing. One approach to defining an object is in terms of the object's properties and its relation in the universe to other things, such as its color, its weight, its size, its dimension. An object can be big or round. Black or blue. Opaque or transparent. Heavy or light. Smooth or textured. But where that object sits in relation to your life, or your perception of your life, is where it gets interesting.
For Marble Life, we select a small object that represents a specified unit of time. Your object can be a pebble, a token, a paper clip, a coin, or whatever object suits your fancy. Personally, I use a marble, which is why I call this exercise Marble Life. It could represent one weekend; one Saturday, one week, one month. Your unit of time is up to you. We carry that object, that symbolic unit of time, close to our body, as a physical/virtual reminder that life during that specified time frame is what we make of it. After that unit of time expires (e.g., the week passes), we discard the object. We throw it away. It serves as a powerful reminder that that object, that moment, that single unit of time, is gone — forever. It reminds us to place more emphasis on the moment.
Why a Marble?
A marble is a clean slate. An island. An entity unto itself. Beautiful, simple, rich in tradition, tactile, and smooth to the touch. A marble is easy on the eye. And the wallet. A collection of color. A blank canvas from which to express, explore, and project. Easy to acquire and fun to collect, a marble is affordable. Or rare and expensive. It can be plain or artistic. Or expressive. Clear or exploding with personality. It whispers one word. Or screams a statement. You can roll it. Spin it. Play with it. Trade it. You can get lost in its shine and perplexed by its inner beauty. There is something about a marble ...
A marble can be lots of things to lots of people.
A marble is:
Why a marble? I choose to use a marble as my object because it is small and fits easily into my pocket. But beyond its tiny size, I find that a marble possesses the alluring properties and qualities I've listed above. These qualities live in my mind and are projected onto my marble as it travels with me throughout my day. I can get lost in a marble. And I do. To me, it's my little secret. Having it sitting in my pocket, acutely aware of its presence, I can roll a marble between my fingers and connect on a deeper level. It has meditative qualities. Rolling my marble is relaxing and helps me to look within. I find a marble unassuming yet powerful. The colors of marbles are often beautiful and vibrant. Or muted and simple. The colors and patterns are as diverse as the stars in the sky and as textured as my day. A marble works for me. You can choose any object that works for you. Your object can be half dollars. Every week you give one away. Or a ball of seeds, tossed away to grow wherever it lands. Your object can be a paper clip, a penny, or a bottle cap. Of course, any object will do, as long as it resonates with you.
Channeling Your Object
While your Marble Life marble is beautiful in its raw form, it is only an object until you give that object meaning and purpose. Your weekly marble is about harnessing the tremendous power that you possess, a power that lies deep within your subconscious mind and within the confines of your inner being. Marble Life is about channeling or projecting your thoughts, your desires, your wants, and your focus to one object. That object, in this case your Marble Life marble, is no longer an inanimate object, but a reference point that is powered by your energy. Now, every time you feel or touch or sense your marble, you are not simply feeling an object but everything that that object now stands for. That marble is you. It is today — it is the very real, right-now moment in your life. That marble represents all that your life has to offer ... and all that you have to offer your life. That marble is you. Today. Now.
I call this projection channeling. Without projection channeling, all of your thoughts come and go in and out of the ether. It is not only hard, it is nearly impossible, to gather your thoughts, hold onto them, sort them into any meaningful priority, and channel them if you don't have a symbolic, physical something to channel them to. Once you are able to project, or channel, your thoughts, desires, wants, and goals to your object, your object takes on meaning and serves as a physical reference point, a landing sphere, a forceful (or should I say force field) reminder of your channeled energies. If your desires are floating around, without a special something to capture your projected channeling, you will not be able to fully harness your power of thought. Your marble is your conduit to action ... the change you seek in yourself.
When you carry around your marble for the week, you are carrying around everything that your marble stands for. When you finally toss your marble, you are releasing yourself — and allowing yourself to be free and to grow to the new you of the moment.
Simply Marvel at Your Marble — or Go Deeper
Each day you can simply marvel at your marble. Your marble is your visual reminder. It is for you and you only. Your marble sits in your pocket. Or on your person. Or on your home screen. It can twirl. Bounce. Spin. Stand tall. Stand still. Or just be. What you choose to do with your marble (or your object of choice), and how you opt to interact with your marble, are entirely up to you.CHAPTER 4
Psychology behind Marble Life
Selection. Projection. Reflection. Ejection. (Repeat.)
There is a force behind marble life. And you are the source of that powerful force. A force field created by the subject and projected onto the object. The stronger your belief in the exercise, the deeper your commitment, the bigger the force field, the greater the results.
I have been participating in the same Marble Life exercise, nearly religiously, for over a decade (as of this writing). What keeps it fresh? What keeps me coming back for more, with a passion that is stronger than the week prior? Good question. And a question that I never thought of, nor did I have an answer to, until recently. There is an emotional tie, a psychological draw, to the mindful exercise of the Marble Life program that keeps me coming back and keeps me invigorated and engaged from moment to moment ... and week to week ... and year to year. I'm in my thirteenth year and counting. I haven't missed a day. Or a week. This is not by accident.
At one point, recently, and at the suggestion of some colleagues, I looked to replicate my physical Marble Life exercise into a virtual one, marrying the two realms. During this period of exploration and discovery, I was asked by a member of my app-development team to think long and hard about the emotions that run through my mind, day to day, week to week, throughout my physical Marble Life exercise process. Interesting thought and quite insightful. No one had ever asked me that question before. They wanted to know because they wanted to capture, and mirror, those raw emotions that keep me coming back for more during my physical exercise routine. They wanted to define those emotions, replicate them, and then incorporate them into a virtual Marble Life exercise, one that parallels my physical version. After much thought and some probing around my psyche, I identified the process of Selection; Projection; Reflection; Ejection; (Repeat), and the four raw emotions that run through my mind on a weekly basis. They are, in exact order:
4. My unwillingness to let go
Let me break this out for you.
Selection = Anticipation.
Every Saturday morning, when I walk into my bedroom closet and reach into my Marble Life jar to retrieve my week's marble, a sense of arousal and pent-up anticipation builds up. I can't tell you if this lasts for a second, as I reach into the jar; or for minutes, as I approach to enter the closet; or when I wake up in the morning and first think about my ritual that is about to unfold. It is a seductive emotion, powered by anticipation, as I go through my very personal and intimate ritual of selecting a marble that will live with me for a week. I am about to start a new chapter in my life ... and in the life of everyone who comes in contact with me. My emotions run deep.
This week's marble is selected.
Projection = Excitement.
Excerpted from Living the Marble Life by David G. Becker. Copyright © 2016 David G. Becker. Excerpted by permission of Turning Stone Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Growing Up,
Chapter 2: Awakening,
Chapter 3: Marble Life — The Object of Your Desire,
Chapter 4: Psychology behind Marble Life,
Chapter 5: Where Is the Starting Line?,
Chapter 6: You're Somewhere. Are You Here? Are You There? Are You Aware?,
Chapter 7: Get in the Know and in the Now,
Chapter 8: We Hear but We Don't Listen,
Chapter 9: Math Your Day,
Chapter 10: Look at Yourself: Take Note.,
Chapter 11: Slip into the Moment,
Chapter 12: The Now You,