We all have jobs in life. For some jobs we get paid, others are paid through life experiences and strong relationships. Our “jobs” often bring obligations, expectations and time constraints. Each brings remembrances and rewards. Life experience has taught me that, as a friend defined it, what matters are the “margins” in our life.
In essence, our life’s margins are moments of extra time. We each have requirements for life — we must sleep a bit, we must eat, we must tend to bodily functions. Pretty much everything else is a choice. If we want possessions, making the almighty buck is part of our life. If we want to be healthy, we need to burn the calories we ingest and move our muscles enough that they keep working. If we want mental prowess, we need to exercise our brains. How happy we are is determined by these choices.
So we have life’s requirements, life’s choices, and then we have life’s margins. After the sleeping and eating, working body and mind, most of us still have time we haven’t spent. The world has developed phrases for life-margin personalities, such as “couch potato” (popcorn, pillows and motion pictures — with as little bodily motion as possible). Or the opposite, a “fitness freak” (folks who eat, drink and read on their treadmill in preparation for a double marathon).
Most of us are somewhere in between. But extreme or mellow, we each have some time around the edges of our life time; we each have margin time. How we spend our margin time affects our quality of life.
In my margins, I rarely go to a show. Like books, a good movie has to let me walk away with a nugget: a quote, some wisdom, something to ponder. “Tomorrowland” drew me in! I went to see it once and found unexpected truisms! I was frustrated in capturing the quotes for fear of being dragged out of the theater by my hair if I dared turn on my phone’s notepad.
Alas, there was tomorrow, after all, and I used my tomorrow to land myself back in the theater with pad and pencil in hand, ready to scribble away in the darkness.
Like so many around us espouse, the world of “Tomorrowland” was doomed to destruction. Around every corner climate change, mushroom clouds and mass chaos were waiting to reign. Like so many today, the sentiment of paralysis inculpated the need for change, to try, to be a catalyst.
Years ago I lived near an area that had once been 150 acres of wetlands. Annexation and urbanization had reduced it to a 20-acre flood detention basin. Neglect had turned it into an arsenic-laden swampland. As a vital stop in the pelicans’ migratory flyway, toxic levels often poisoned its winged visitors. The lake had become a killing swamp rather than a sustaining rest stop. It was the “Tomorrowland” of the area.
People talked about the pollution. Graffiti and litter surrounded its shores. The focus was on what was wrong. Then things changed and today the lake is once again clean. It is part of a multimile bikeway along a cleaned-up river. It is a safe haven for the fowl. What changed? A paradigm shift.
People stopped focusing on the problem and began focusing on turning things around. There is always a way to turn things around. One child, one idea, one voice, one action. Even the tiniest of actions can change the world. It is so easy to just give up. We each have some plan, some vision for our future. We just need to figure out what it is — and then act.
We are engulfed by a constant stream of stimuli. News, talk shows, subliminal messages, rhetoric and sound bites. We listen, we absorb. But what is our idea for the world, for our life, our future? Which sound bite do we dwell on? When we see a news story of despair, do we feed it with more despair? Or do we counter it with a positive action of our own? In every moment there is the possibility of a beautiful future if we do not give up.
What is your idea, your vision? You were once a child, perhaps you have a child of your own. Remember the possibilities before you then and now. Listen to your heart. You have a voice. Speak it, sing it. Join your voice with others. You can make a difference for the better, for one person. And if you make the world a better place for one person, you have made the world a better place for all. Remember, the future belongs to those who do not give up.
Cat Trico has been a resident of Boulder City since 2003 and is a past president of the Senior Center of Boulder City and co-founder of the Decker Lake Wetlands Preserve. As an author and editor, she contributed to “Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships” for youth. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.