Saturday, March 19, 2011


     Since yesterday was my birthday,and now I am closer to 70 than to 60,a moment of reflection seems to be in order. The reason that I have entitled this post,"On Borrowed Time" is because thats the way I view the last 44 years of my life. You see when I was 21 years old I was in the jungles of Vietnam and was sure that I would not  see my 22nd birthday, I was wrong, and have since viewed each passing year of life as being borrowed time.Now the thing is that when you are living on borrowed time you want to make it count and be worthwhile.Well I returned from the jungles of Vietnam and went to college with the thought of becoming a teacher.However the most important idea that became the guiding principle of my life came from watching an episode of the tv series Star Trek.
     Let me explain about the importance of Star Trek to me.When I came home from the war to say my outlook on life was bleak,dark and sour would be an understatement.My view of mankind in general and its future was one of self annihilation in the very near future.I returned from Vietnam on August 25,1966 and two weeks later was moving into a college dorm.The college was called Shimer ,and it ranked as one of the top academic school in the nation and according to the Saturday Evening Post one of the top drug schools in the nation. It had a student populationof about 275 students. At anyone time at least 30 to 40 were attending Oxford University in England,with another 25 to 30 attending the University of Chicago.So on campus there were about 200 students and I was the only veteran and a combat veteran to boot on campus. The rest of the student body could rightly be described as long haired hippies.They were really great kids but a little naive as far as the way the world really worked.Anyway one night I wandered into the student union to watch a little tv and on came this science fiction series called Star Trek.Now ever since I was 8 years old I was an avid reader especially of science fiction,so a tv show about space immediately caught my intrest.It was the first time in which mankind was shown has having done away with fighting among ourselfs and had learned to cooperate for the common good. Of course we fought with other aliens but not with ourselfs.And to a war weary veteran it immediately became dear to my heart.But in Janurary 1967 an episode aired that literally change my life and world view.
     The episode was called,"Tomorrow is Yesterday" in which the U.S.S. Enterprise is hurled back into the early 20th century  and is spotted as an UFO by a US Air Force pilot.The plane that the pilot is flying is accidently destroyed and Captain Kirk has the pilot beamed aboard.When a check by the computer finds no metion of the captain in the historical records Kirk decides to take the pilot with them back to the 24th century.Then Mr.Spock informs the captain that he had made a mistake,yes I know Mr. Spock making a mistake,anyway the mistake was not checking to see if any of the pilots descendants were important enought to be in the historical record.Well it turns out that the pilot's son would be the first person to set foot on mars,so the pilot had to stay.What a novel idea,that one could be important to mankind because of what a descendant would do,or that one could change the life of someone who could impact history hit me like a ton of bricks.This then became the guiding principle of my life. I became a teacher,firefighter,paramedic,volunteer and tutor.When an opportunity came along to help someone I took it.Ok maybe the odds of my helping someone who directly or indirectly impacts the history of mankind might be almost zero,but a chance is still a chance.Fortunately, I was never big on possessions with the exception of books,so I have given away at least 50% of the money and possessions I have made and acquired over the years.An though it sometimes meant that things might be a little lean for a while,to my way of thinking it was worth it. Call me crazy,but the feeling you get helping others is like no other and add to it the possibility of helping that one individual who could end up changing the world, well all I can say it is addictive in the extreme.Well that's the story of Borrowed time.You know how I feel about it but as always the question is what do you think about it?  


  1. I believe we all touch the lives of our future in this world, We dont know what the future holds, that is part of the mystery, but to share what we have be it money or knowledge is our duty to our race.

    Welcome back, its good to read you again !

  2. Hi Richard, sorry I am slow in commenting I have had a migraine for the last few days. It makes thinking tricky let alone reading and typing.
    I have had many health problems over the years, the most noticable of which are eczema, alopecia and mental health issues. As a result I am obese, bald and wear thick glasses, often with rashes that affect what I wear and mean I am covered in oily ointment.
    In most peoples eyes this means that I am also stupid at best.
    Actually, I have an I.Q. of 157 which apparently puts me in the top 3%. I am eligable to join Mensa. I don't because I read their magazine a couple of times and found the members generally unbearably arrogant in their feeling of superiority.
    Anyway, as usual I have drifted from the point. Over the years I have found that I have very limited desires and ambitions. I eant to live comfortably but that is it. I don't want millions and a hugh house. I have often dreamed of winning the lottery but my dreams have always involved using the money to set up self-help groups and basic housing for the homeless. The one pleasure that everyone can get is the joy of changing someones day for the better. Anyone can destoy, people show that everyday, improving is more difficult but so much more rewarding as smiles are always nicer to see than frowns.

  3. I many ways I too am living on borrowed time. Both of my parents had detached retinas in both eyes. While detachments are not inherited, the eye make up that makes them probable is. It was predicted that I would have at least one detachment before I was forty. I am forty-six and still intact so far. However, two years ago I was told that I have retinal web deteriation which means that if/when I have a detachment it will be a catastrophic failure and I will be left blind in that eye. Then the second retina will be spot welded into place although this will affect my vision in that eye too. So I am living on borrowed time as a sighted person. This means I value my sight and reading, etc.. Therefore, I support the national society for the blind, the talking library service and Sight Savers all of whom do such valuable work.
    I should also have type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, acording to my doctor. I haven't, yet. I appreciate this but support the charities working on these fronts.
    I have a higher possibility of cancer. I fund-raise for CLIC sergant who work with children with cancer.
    Paying it forward is my philosophy. If we all do that, the support may be there when and if we need it. If we don't, it won't. Simple.

  4. Finally, over the years I have received scorn from people one would expect to be compassionate (including one of my doctors who told me that if I were her dog, she would have me put down), even members of my family. Then I have received help and support from the most unlikely people (including a mob of football supporters on their way to a match who wanted to take me with them as a mascot because I knew the words to there team song). I no longer judge people at first sight and I hate the modern habit of catagorising people.

  5. Richard and Penny, I am humbled by your words

    Everyone has a story.

    After my daughter Chantelle’s death, during a period of raw grieving,
    I had a dream…

    In the dream an open book appeared…The words “Make the most of it”
    Were spotlighted by an overlay of light. The page turned and the words…
    “Do the living without asking the whys” were spotlighted…

    That night was a turning point for me, because I was continually
    asking the why’s and the what if’s. I knew I had to make the most of the life that remained,
    that I was not the only one who has ever experienced the pain of losing a child. Instead of saying why me?, I had to ask why not me? I fought tooth and nail trying to change what happened in my mind, which would never translate into real life. Finally, only through feeling the pain and acceptance of what happened was I able to live again. That included participating in workshops to help others through their grief , demonstrating how journaling their thoughts and dreams can expose the pain of grief so you are able to find peace and experience joy again. At any given moment I can return to the black pit of despair, with something as simple as a song. The difference is now I can climb out of the pit….

    ♥ ஆ ~.^

  6. That is the huge question for all of us, isn't it? Why should we be spared? I think this everytime something like the earthquake in Japan happens. Everything in life is a matter of luck. Even if you get to choose where you live and how healthily you live you still have to deal with the genes you inherit and the actions of those around you. The phrase 'no man is an island' is more true than ever now. I am glad you have found the stepladder to help you out of the pit when you slip in.