1. The edge or border of something: he took notes in the margin of his book.
2. An amount by which something is won or falls short: they won the game by a 17-point margin.
There are other definitions of the word, of course. But I like this second definition best. It concisely clarifies the margins in our life by which we could succeed but often fall short.
As I write this, I am sitting in my car on the way to work. My son is driving. It’s 7:15 in the morning and I am tired. This is a margin. I have a choice how to fill this margin. I want to lean the seat back and grab another half hour of sleep before I teach an 8 am class. Instead, I choose to fill THIS margin with something useful.
Ever read a good nonfiction book? Maybe a self-help book or a textbook? If you’re like me, you either highlight important information or makes notes in the margin. The margin is a place for something useful. You wouldn’t waste time or effort writing frivolous stuff in the margin.
What are some of the margins that surround the important parts of your day? Maybe you ride the train or bus to work. That’s a margin. Have you ever sat in the waiting room for that 3:00 doctor’s appointment, only to hear, “the doctor will see you now,” at 3:45? Another margin. How about the 30 minutes before your daughter’s soccer game when they are “warming up” and you are playing “angry birds” on your cell phone? MARGIN!!!
Have you watched a hot air balloon? It soars high…but if the pilot does not frequently blast the jets to fill the balloon with hot air, the balloon starts to sink back to earth. The hot air leaks away, and eventually the balloon is earthbound again.
Life is like that…time leaks away daily on a moment by moment basis. If we do not continue to fuel our day, we will not be able to soar for very long.
Fuel your day by filling your margins with positive things. Carry a book in your car for when you get stuck in traffic. Keep a pad of paper and a pen on your nightstand for those times when you cannot fall asleep. My mom used to take a bag of knitting wherever she went (do people still knit?). She made a lot of Christmas presents in the margins of her life.
I hope to be entertaining in the margins. What about you? What can you do? You’ll never know unless you try. So go ahead…fly in the face of convention. Be unique! Be innovative! Be creative!