the time keeper, Mitch Albom

Spoilers ahead.

I am one of Mitch Albom’s faithful readers – “the ones who picked up this book without even asking what it was about”. Unlike his earlier works, I find that it takes me a longer time to get into the groove of the book. Maybe because I could not relate to the life of Dor since it happened in a time very long ago. Anyhow, when I eventually did, I fell in love with the book so much so that, I feel, it warrants a blog post on it.

It’s a story about “time” – humans’ greatest enemy. Similar to his earlier works, it is a captivating read which makes the reader feel like an imperfect human. It is about two people who wanted time to do different things for them: the older man wanted time to slow  and he eventually came up with a dramatic plan to live for another lifetime while the younger girl wanted time to pass quickly and later on, she eventually decided to give up on the time she has on earth by choosing to end her own life. So the time keeper, the Father Time, who was stuck in his own drama with God, came to them and gave them timely (bad pun I know) lessons about “time”.

The story was simple, at times cliche, and the story moves forward rather slowly. What I really enjoy are the lessons taught by Father Time. I feel that the older man and the younger girl live inside the hearts of everyone. I am the older man when I am in the midst of an awesome experience, pleading for time to come to a halt and for the sun to never rise. I know I did towards the end of my exchange program. But time does not stop for anyone and to ask for something impossible only makes me feel miserable.

“There is a reason God limits our days.

“Why?”

“To make each one precious.”

At times, I am the younger girl who hates the emptiness of time between now and a particular date and who then longs for time to pass as quickly as possible. I know I felt as such during my exam period when I longed for the time to pass quickly so that the exams would be over in a blink of the eye and I could indulge in fun activities. Because the younger girl chose to commit suicide, Mitch Albom also used that to teach another lesson (I find this dialogue very comforting):

“But they wanted you. Time is not something you give back. The very next moment may be an answer to your prayer. To deny that is to deny the most important part of the future.”

“What’s that?”

“Hope.”

Overall, it is a good read that makes you reflect on your own life and on the larger society. Being always mindful of the time is an obsession and it also shapes the dominant culture in the society. People are always in a rush, they plan most things in life (career plans, travel plans, family plans etc), they have an unsatisfiable thirst to “make full use of your time” and they are usually unhappy when life, more often than not, does not go their way.

I think it is difficult to keep up this zen-like mentality but at least I hope these quotes would stop me when I find myself making unreasonable requests to time.

Man 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.

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