Jewish World Review September 24, 2012/ 8 Tishrei, 5773
Time, like sand, spills too easily
By Mitch Albom
If I already have exceeded that point, my sincere apologies, even though it's only five days since the new book (called "The Time Keeper") came out. But before I thankfully fall off the publicity wagon, I do want to say why I chose the theme of this novel.
Because, books aside, I believe this is a preeminent issue of our lives.
Everyone wants more time.
Few of us appreciate it.
Think about your average day. It likely begins with an alarm clock. Then the radio tells you the time. You slip on your watch. You turn on your cell phone. The morning TV has the time on the screen. Your car dashboard has a clock. You arrive at work either early or late.
And then the hour-counting begins.
No one has enough time. Everyone wants to be more efficient. Time flies. Time's a wasting. Twitter and
Yet for all our increased efficiency, no one is satisfied, and everyone keeps trying to live longer (presumably so that they can text more). We chase time; we never catch it.
I have certainly lived this way. I now regret much of it. I am trying, in my middle years, to undo the pattern. When you lose loved ones, when your family members grow sick and feeble, you can't help but wonder what you are doing with your time. And why we spend so many days counting the hours instead of making the hours count.
In my book research, I tried to learn when "telling time" actually began. No one person gets credit for being the first -- the way Edison gets the light bulb or 2Marconi1 gets the wireless.
But somebody did it. Somebody started counting the years. And once we started counting them, we started counting them down.
And everything changed.
In "The Time Keeper," I imagined the first person to ever measure time, a young, curious boy who puts a stick in the sand and marks its shadow in the sun. He becomes the mythical Father Time, and is banished to a cave as penance for his creation. When he returns to Earth, in our time, he must convince a man who wants to freeze himself to avoid death that this is not the way life is supposed to unfold.
"There is a reason G0d limits our days," he explains.
What is the reason?
"To make each one precious."
And this point often escapes us. We want to live forever, but if we did, nothing would mater. We'd never have to decide between things. It's the limit to our days that forces us to chose how we will spend the hours -- and often determines a good life from a sad one.
I learned this past week about the drowning death of a friend's child. The boy was not yet three years old. It was unspeakably horrible.
And yet the emotion that child has evoked -- the sympathy, the love, the renewed dedication to family -- prove that his brief time was not wasted.
I also spoke this past week to a retiring auto dealer named
There's an old expression, "Life is what happens while you're busy making plans." As the ink formally dries on a new book, I'm hoping it leads its writer to do less of the planning and more of the living.
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