Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > come in number 6, your time is up – when the boatman calls….

come in number 6, your time is up – when the boatman calls….

I wrote here the other week about how we might be remembered, a thought brought on by having seen a couple of the buildings I used to manage demolished. Time passes; things move on.

This week other incidents have sparked me off along the same lines though. One was being reminded of two 40 something ladies meeting on a road I frequent two or three times a week, and the other was the pictures of the water sweeping in across North Eastern Japan.

Like many of us I watched in awe as the water swept in. I’ve been through three earthquakes in my time, including one in California that I slept through, as well as a couple of hurricanes, so I have some feel for what nature can do and the sheer power that can be unleashed, but to watch helplessly as that tidal wave swept ashore was a humbling experience.

We sometimes forget that the gift of life is a privilege and not a right. It will take a while before we know what the death toll is in Japan, and other parts of the region affected by the earthquake, but it seems like we could be talking about a six figure number. None of those folks knew that this was the day that they would die. They went off in the morning to do whatever it was that they had to do. Some will have had to be in what became the danger zone, other will have been sent there by the law of chance; the maintenance engineer sent there rather that to higher, safer, parts because of a call for help for example. Fate is a fickle mistress.

When your time is up and the boatman calls your number it is all over and your time here is done. The meeting of the two ladies is a case in point. I was 6 miles up over the central Atlantic when they met, but it was a time that I might otherwise have also been on that road at about that point in space and time. Their meeting was no social encounter; each was alone in their respective cars when they both needed the same piece of tarmac. Travelling in opposite directions they met at a closing speed over around 100 mph and neither survived*. Up until four or five seconds before the impact neither would have had any notion that this was their time. Had I not been elsewhere I might have found the finger of fate pointing at me that afternoon, but the Berkshire Belle had booked us to fly on that day rather than the next as planned and I was safely parked in a window seat on a 767 at the time of the crash rather than driving myself home on that road.

In the words of the legendary Sid Collins we are all speeding towards death at the rate of sixty minutes in every hour. We don’t know when the call will come, so what we do with our time here is important. If we can do something positive for the world and the people around us then our time here will not be wasted.

As I say, our time on Earth is a privilege and not a right. We all have a choice of what we do with that time. What are you doing with your time here? Remember, life isn’t fair either, and we may not get as much of it as we would like, so never mind what you’d like to be remembered for; try and make a difference and do it today: You may not get another chance.

* I had been told this by one of the locals, but in 2013 I found that it was not true. In the accident one of the ladies died and the other was severely injured, but later recovered. In one of those awful examples of fate it was the innocent party who died instantly in the collision, but the survivor was the one who caused the accident. Having been observed shortly before the crash driving at high speed and erratically, according to reports, she had over twice the legal limit of alcohol in her system. She fled abroad to escape justice, but was returned to the UK where she received a jail sentence. Her recent appeal against the severity of the sentence was turned down.

The local paper summarised the incident here.

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