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?