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. an 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. — Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper
Some books keep you asleep, and some books keep you from falling asleep, and this is how Mitch Albom’s book The Time Keeper best demonstrating that.
I bought the book back then without much idea about the content, just purely because it stays in the top list of the book store and I like his book Tuesday with Morrie. Out of sudden I was digging this out of the pile of my “book container”, thinking that it might worth trying a fiction book apart from the usual business / self-help non-fictions that I usually read — just to have a short emotional getaway from the recent unmotivated energy state (After-all everybody needs some rest be it physically traveling / emotional brain dump right?)
And I have to admit that Mitch Albom’s book once again, impressed and surprised me, not only with the quality and well-thought words, but also with the inspirational seed that he never seem to fail to plant in his readers. From reading and communicating through his words, there triggered many thoughts and just to list a few.
We talk about taking things / people for granted, but seldom do we think about taking the existence of what men has defined for granted, in this case — time.
This is one of the interesting and impactful points I came across and personally one of my favourites. Have I never read about this, I will not have thought about this at all. What does it mean if men did not start to measure time? What will the world be like if there’s no idea about time at all for all our encounters in this world? Men might still discover knowledge and invented everything that we have today, but the our mindset and the society might be structured differently. Our takes and values defined at every single matter in this world would have be entirely different.
Having knowing of the existence of ‘time’ may seem so fundamental and integrated in our life, but the existence of it might be a lot more influential than we could have imagine.
Will it makes any difference if we’re given endless time to the game of our life?
Most of us feel that we do not have enough time and that’s where the blame is for anything that we’re not able to achieve (yet), as if with more time given we will be better at anything that we are doing or what we want to do.
Interconnectedness in the digital world are feeding us (almost real-time) with what is happening in the life of others, but giving less attention to what is around us, or rather, within us. Somehow we have the deep desire and think that we shouldn’t be any different than what they can achieve, with our intelligence, capability or hard work. After all men is easily influenced by the surroundings to their thoughts, mindset and behaviours (that’s why with the saying “You’re the average of X number of people you spend most time with”). So it’s really not that surprising with the obsession with success in the society today, as we are being presented with so much success stories of so many others all over the world.
With us thinking about how to be successful all the time, there seem so much to achieve with too little time, and at the same time, we seem to achieve more but living less. It is like populating our life with small projects with extremely tight timelines to complete or our life report card will be marked a big fat “F”.
The constant shouts / noises in our mind everyday telling us with something like
“How successful people utilise their breakfast time”
“How you should manage your time”
“Take action now, live your dream and you shall have no regrets”
“X things you need to do to be more productive”
We seem to be deafened by the ‘should’s, developing one plan after next (or even concurrently), trying to be more efficient and maximise our footprints in this world, when we actually being least mindful at every move. We end up hungry for more rather than feeling satisfied. The more we are able to complete, the more we think that we have the ability to control our life and own our existence. The more we do, the more we calculate how much more we are able to achieve. And, as a result, the more we’re being paralysed by the fear of time running out. Will that actually be anything more desirable?
“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.”
“Sometimes, when you are not getting the love you want, giving makes you think you will.”
Whether it is work, relationship or any other ventures that we are having, we do understand that uncertainties will always exist to a certain extent and we can’t be sure of the results that we get. We can’t be 100% confident that all the effort we make in a relationship will ensure that to work well, nor can we promise to ourselves that we will get the promotion we want if we work hard enough. We might have a delusion that the more effort we invested, we will somehow have a better control of the outcome.
Many may be aware of that things isn’t happening as what we expected most of the time in our life, but it is more than shutting the noises of worry and fear in our mind to be brave for actioning. Learning to deal with failures and unexpected / undesirable outcomes might be easier to say than done, but that’s really what we have to learn by changing our mindset, mastering our own mind to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We know more, but how much do we understand them?
We know much more from the easy reach of information in this world, but we understand way lesser. The most dangerous part is, we sometimes know just enough to be able to do something destructive without understanding it enough. That’s how another great book best discuss about this (How to read a book — by Mortimer J. Adler)
Father time, when being asked by the God why did he try to measure time, answered “to know”, and he thought he know about time when he managed to measure them with a stone, stick and shadow. But eventually after trying to understand the two distinct life in the modern world, he’s more baffled than ever. And that’s when he realised that knowing something and understanding it were not the same thing. The reason being he’s not able to understand the meaning of time to the two modern world individuals as what does time mean to him.
With different context, perspective and background we come from, the understanding of one concept might be very different to each other. Globalisation and technology makes people more connected. Knowledge and information are easier to be shared and disseminated. We have more articles but shorter time to read. We do more glancing and less chewing of the information. We have greater urge to express ourselves without more thinking and listening.
We own more of everything else but time.
On a side note, one of my favourite deliveries of this book is that the author simplifies men in two general groups — with two individuals whom the Father time was assigned to rescue them — one that asks for more time; and the other one that wish for time given to her to pass faster. All of us might be able to portray ourselves in the two life stories of Sarah Lemon and Victor Delamonte to a certain extent (?). We don’t necessarily ask for more time all the time, but I believe most of us have experienced the moments where we wish for either one of those.
I’m really glad I made the decision to flip the first page of this book on that day. There exist many other great sharing points in the book, and I can’t possibly state all here. Some may have been encountered for me but might be giving other readers new perspective, it depends. The book has served a great reminder at the wrong emphasis many has made in yearning what we have lost rather than cherishing what we are having — the seemingly obvious yet hardest to master for most of us.
How many of us lived, but how many of us are actually feeling alive?
p.s. And for people who’d like to step away from overwhelming information / taking a break with reading, I strongly recommend to give this book a go and let Mitch Albom brings you through the wanders of time :)