Imagine you were negotiating a time loan
“I want more life, fucker”… but Roy Batty doesn’t get it. In the PG version of Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner, the line is softened to “I want more life, father”.
Ok, a bit of context.
In Blade Runner we see a bunch of replicants running around causing havoc. They’re essentially artificial humans created to be a labor force, and they all have one design limitation – a notably short lifespan.
So Roy Batty, who is essentially ‘king of the replicants’, comes back to his ‘father’ and maker Tyrell to demand more life.
Regardless of which version of the film you watch, the spoiler is that he doesn’t get it.
What if we asked for more time in a nicer way than Roy?
This begs the question. What if we did ask nicely?
The reality is we have a lot in common with these replicants, not just our emotional capacity or awareness, but our lifespan is capped too. For most of us, this lifespan is a little longer than the few years the replicants are given.
Time is our most precious resource. The only thing we can’t make more of.
There are people who have made billions of dollars, lost it all, and then started from scratch to recreate their fortunes. But there’s no one who has been able to return to their childhood or teenage years and do a period of their life over.
(Or, if they have, they’re being incredibly tight-lipped about it).
Few of us would protest to or neglect to take up the opportunity to apply for a couple more years of life as a result… right?
What if there were a ‘Time Bank’ where we could apply for more years? What would this look like, and how would our applications go?
Imagine applying to ‘The Time Bank’ for more years.
The Time Bank would work in a similar fashion to any other bank in how it issued a loan. Time is finite, though its distribution is regulated by The Time Bank, and so it can’t create inflation by just giving everyone more years. That would devalue all time and rob everyone of quality of life. Of quality of time.
So it would have to have a system.
What ‘collateral’ would we offer up?
Of course we can’t just walk into a regular bank and get any old-loan we want. The amount we can borrow depends on a lot of different factors.
One of them is collateral, what we put up as a security so the bank has more assurance that we’ll pay them their money back. Property is a common example – if we don’t pay them back, they foreclose and take our home.
What collateral would The Time Bank consider? Would we give it some of our savings? Would we pay them some money now, knowing that with more time we’d make more than enough money to pay them back?
Would we be able to hold the time of friends and family up as a security, and use them as a guarantor? Would friends and family be able to devote a portion of their time to us, to help us get more time?
What would a good deal look like to The Time Bank?
What does a regular bank look for in a deal? I guess they like to find deals that will be profitable, that look sound and have acceptable risk to reward, so that they know they’ll do well off you. So they know that they’ll get their return.
So I guess The Time Bank would give us time so that it gets quality time back?
In other words, the branch managers at The Time Bank will ask us what we’re going to do with the extra time, how we’re going to use it and why we should get some extra time over our neighbour who is also applying.
So you might say… I want to sit on the couch, watch Netflix all day, with my feet-up, drinking and smoking and consuming.
Or you might say… I’m going to open doors for others by doing this and this, by doing whatever is necessary, so that the doors keep opening long after I’m gone.
What about Credit History?
Yes, the dreaded credit check. They would still have credit checks at The Time Bank. After all, how could they be sure that you’re not just saying that you’ll open doors for others, when really you’ll just be sitting on the couch all day?
Well regular banks look at your credit history, your track record. If you failed to pay back your previous loans, your credit card bills or have some spending habits they think are unhealthy, they’ll blacklist you.
So when you ask for more time, but have not shown a track record of using time well or keeping your promises, how do you propose to get yourself a good deal?
How successful would you be in an application for more time at The Time Bank?
How would you go? What is your plan for that time, what collateral can you offer, and how is your credit history looking?
Maybe before you apply, should you fix up that credit history, or that plan?
If I operated The Time Bank
I’d put a question down at the bottom of every application form, and on the signature of every message and email.
What’s wrong with the time we already gave you?
The reality is, if you’re reading this, someone already gave you some of their time as collateral. It is likely you’ve already borrowed time off friends, family and strangers, with the expectation that you’d repay it back tenfold.
As we talk about in Time ROI, the quality of your time is important. If you were going to get more years from The Time Bank, you’d have to get more out of the existing time you have anyway.
Because there is no Time Bank, getting a better return on your existing time is even more important.
Steve Jobs was right.
Death really is the best invention. How often do we wish we had an extra hour in the day, so that we could have more time off after work or be able to get more things done?
Only that if we had an extra hour in the day, companies would compete against one another and quickly absorb the extra hour. Two companies that are otherwise the same would look to create a competitive advantage by saying that ‘our team works an extra hour everyday, which adds up!’
And so the other company would have no choice but to match the commitment. With more hours in the day, we’d work more, not less.
The Academy Award for Best Actor is special because only one person can win it at a time.
If they gave it a hundred actors every year, it wouldn’t be so coveted. If they gave it to every person who acted and made it infinite, then it would be worth more as a set of materials than as a symbolic award.
What is rare has value because we can’t afford to waste it. So, thank the heavens and powers at be that you will die one day.
Without death, we’d all suffer time inflation, and all time and all life would be meaningless.
“All those moments will be lost…”
At the end of Blade Runner Roy Batty makes an emotional speech as he prepares to expire, giving up in the search for more life. He resigns to and accepts his ominous fate.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion,
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate,
All those moments will be lost… in time, like tears… in the rain.
Time to die.”
The great irony is that as his life is shorter, he has appreciated it all the more for its very fine parts.
No matter how nicely we ask, there is no more time on offer. So, to quote another Hollywood classic (The Shawshank Redemption), “Get busy living, or get busy dying”.
Though ironically we’re probably best served doing both together.
Who do you think of when you read this? Would this piece ‘open a door’ for someone you know? If so, remember to share it with them.
After all, the best way to open a thousand doors for you is to open doors for others.