“There is a reason God limits our days.’
‘To make each one precious.”
― Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper
If you are given control of time, what would you do? Perhaps a sad man who just broke up with his girlfriend of 10 years would end it. Probably, a business tycoon would extend it to amass more wealth and enjoy the bounty of the world. Maybe, a student would freeze it so exam week arrives no more. Time is a precious commodity nowadays and everyone’s crazy to take hold of it without realizing that we all have it, we are just not making the most out of it.
Light and entertaining yet full of moral lessons, the Time Keeper by Mitch Albom is one of the novels that talks about the importance of time well-spent. It tackles about the prevailing dilemma in all society nowadays—controlling time to meet the longing of the flesh. It is not preachy that you might be thinking of, instead, it’s a fantasy interwoven with bits of reality to come up with a great masterpiece everyone can mirror to.
The novel opens with Dor (Hebrew for generation), the first man to measure days, months, and years. He timed every sunrise and sunset, the season and all its in-betweens. Since he lived when the Tower of Babel was constructed by his childhood friend Nim, he opposed it and suggested that they should control time instead. He and his wife were exiled because of that. When the latter was dying, he came back to the tower and climb to heaven never to come back again. He was imprisoned in a cave and was bound to hear the agonies of people all his life.
Fast forward to several generations after, he was freed and charged to change the lives of two people. He has to make them realize that controlling time is not a grandiose endeavor but a total disaster itself, a lesson he himself knows better than anyone else.
One is Sarah Lemon, an overweight, brilliant high school senior who consistently gets good grades in school. Nonetheless, she’s suffering from anxiety issues and low self-esteem compounded by failed romance with an out-of-her-league crush. She wanted to stop time by committing suicide.
The other man is Victor Delamonte, a successful hedge fund tycoon who suffers from cancer. He was undergoing dialysis but willing to stop it just to be preserved in Cryonics lab and be resurrected later when a cure for his disease is already discovered.
Life is all about accepting what we have and what we are capable of doing. The time that we have to accomplish everything is enough and as long as we lived it fully with satisfaction, then we don’t have to worry. Sarah felt unloved so she wants to end life; Victor has everything a man needs so he wants to extend his life. It’s ironic but it is reality. The more we have in life, the more we aim to achieve greater but if we think we can’t have it, we tend to stop and just end everything. What we lack is the courage to stand up against the prides and prejudices of the judging eyes of the society we live in.
Time, indeed, is an indomitable luxury. We can only enjoy it while it lasts but once it’s gone, it will be gone forever. You may stop it. You may extend it for a while. Nonetheless, do we consider what we leave behind? Why not just live it to fullest, instead? I bet you’ll be happier like never before.
Quotes that Moved Me
“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. We alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures—a fear of time running out.”
“We all yearn for what we have lost. But sometimes, we forget what we have.”
“When you are measuring life, you are not living it.”
“As mankind grew obsessed with its hours, the sorrow of lost time became a permanent hole in the human heart. People fretted over missed chances, over inefficient days; they worried constantly about how long they would live, because counting life’s moments had led, inevitably, to counting them down. Soon, in every nation and in every language, time became the most precious commodity.”
“There was always a quest for more minutes, more hours, faster progress to accomplish more in each day. The simple joy of living between summers was gone.”
“The length of your days does not belong to you.”
“Everything man does today to be efficient, to fill the hour? It does not satisfy. It only makes him hungry to do more. Man wants to own his existence. But no one owns time. When you are measuring life, you are not living it.”
“Sometimes, when you are not getting the love you want, giving makes you think you will.”
“With endless time, nothing is special. With no loss or sacrifice, we can’t appreciate what we have”