ON MY way to work a few weeks ago, I happened to drive behind a car with a sticker written ‘Riding on borrowed time’. The reading awoke something in me that I have never seriously pondered before. It gave a reminder of how each day that passes insinuates a reduced time that was ‘borrowed’ in the initial place. Yes, it is borrowed time from the Maker God, and so our repayment has to do with what we do with the same time while we still have it.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘borrowed time’ as to continue living after a point at which you might easily have died. Dictionary.com defines it as an uncertain, usually limited period of time extending beyond or postponing the occurrence of something inevitable. Furthermore, the Collins Dictionary suggests that someone who is living on borrowed time or who is on borrowed time has continued to live or to do something for longer than was expected, and is likely to die or be stopped from doing it soon. The Quora indicates that the phrase “living on borrowed time” implies that someone’s life choices are such that by rights, the clock should have already run out on their life.

The underlying aspect about ‘borrowed time’ is the limitation and uncertainty that comes with it. In other words, one would not be certain whether or not they will still have the chance of achieving their dreams, or accomplishing certain assignments and aspirations. Simply put, the clock cannot be reversed and so all that humans do is work within the framework of the available time, not knowing what tomorrow brings.

Going through various writings by several contributors, it was intriguing to come across enormous information on tips to maximise time whether as a worker, student, sportsperson, entrepreneur, among others. Writings such as ‘4 tricks to maximise your time in the office’ by Jay Bacrania; ‘7 effective time management tips to maximise your productivity’ (Alicia Rades); ‘How to make the most of your time’ (Robin Sharma) and the list is endless. The said ideas stem from the truth of time being limited and that each day that passes one loses some amount of it, making a reversal of the clock rather impossible. The ideal situation therefore is to find ways in which one can achieve more in less time and this is a common philosophy embraced in all circles of life. But how many are able to recognise and seize those life’s opportunities to reach one’s epic and achieve more within the limited time?

The inner self challenge worth pondering is the fact that within the borrowed time lies the truth that with each day, life presents itself with windows of opportunities;

It could be an opportunity to be a life changer or blessing to someone, such as a child, neighbour, stranger, student, friend, or a vulnerable person. The list goes on. A word to someone who seems discouraged and low, a pat on the back of someone who needs assurance and affirmation, a smile, as well as material provisions to those who might be in need. We can be alive to the fact that each day that comes, we meet people who are in need of some intervention in one way or the other. The needs can be material or non-material in nature, and there lies a capability within us to intervene and show random acts of kindness.

It may be an opportunity to climb greater heights of self-development, socially, economically, academically towards achieving God’s destiny for one’s life. What business, work or study opportunities have presented themselves before you and what have you done about them? In this sense, opportunities can be seen as a combination of the two sides: those focused on personal achievements to increase our relevance and those focused on leaving a lasting but positive imprint in someone’s life through acts of kindness. This is the essence of life which require to be on-going within the borrowed time, and so it is up to each person to position themselves for the said challenge.

Putting an emphasis on the need to show kindness, Dhar Mann, a well-known mission-driven entrepreneur and filmmaker, once said, ‘Small acts of kindness can change the world’. He posits further how that the size of one’s wallet or audience does not matter, but that what we do in between with every opportunity that comes our way does. Therefore richness is not about what one possesses but rather how much they give. This is what brings fulfilment and a sense of achievement within the borrowed time. No one should have an excuse, we can all make a difference! Remember, you came on earth with nothing and shall you leave with nothing.

Robin Sharma, one of the world’s premier speakers on leadership and personal mastery, once argued that kindness is not a sign of weakness, and it will always come back to you a hundred acts. And according to scripture, the Bible says, “Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap” (Luke 6:38).

Taking an introspection of your life, what difference have YOU made in the lives of others so far? Or how do you wish to fortify your inner self with so much kindness that permeates lives of the many that come into contact with you? It is time to nurture that heroism in you and determine to be that atmosphere changer you were meant to be.

You community and your country at large needs you to show good stewardship of the ‘borrowed time’. Stop wasting it on activities that do not add value to yourself and others. The time to stop ‘playing small’ is now! Within the use of social media and numerous followers you might have, go beyond building your popularity because your popularity without adding value or leaving a lasting imprint on others is fruitless. What will you be remembered for when you are gone? Will it be your greed or kindness? Will it be turmoil or healing? Will it be destruction or development? Will it be materialism which was never shared? What do you envisage to do with the ‘borrowed time’ before you?

Here is the time to declutter our homes with clothes, beddings, utensils, furniture, unused books, food and other items we might not require and identify who within our circles need them. May our communities and country at large awaken to the truth that bridging the gap between the poor and the rich may just commence with little acts of kindness within the ‘borrowed time’ each human being has before them.

It is time to revive the acts of kindness by remembering the vulnerable in our neighbourhood, among friends, relatives and among strangers and whoever would be in need. When an opportunity to be that change agent and atmosphere changer comes along, do not hold back! Embrace it with gratitude knowing that you are riding on ‘borrowed time ‘and that time to ‘play small’ is over. At the end of it all, see your life evolve into a conduit that your community and society has been waiting for. How have you been utilising the ‘borrowed time’ before you?

For the next version of Introspection Time With JBM, check Kalemba every Wednesday.

by Joan B. Mute

Joan B. Mute is a lecturer in Research Methods, Sociology and Law and Ethics in Public Health at the University of Lusaka.

For reactions email: [email protected]


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