Time is money. A phrase I’ve been hearing for as long as I remember; a phrase that I’ll admit didn’t mean much to me until I saw Andrew Niccol’s 2011 film “In Time”.
That film changed my entire perspective on the value of time; actually it achieved in 2 hours what messages, admonitions, advice, instruction etc had not been able to achieve in years. Probably the most traumatic moment for me (and this is after careful consideration of hundreds of movies I’ve seen) in film was watching Olivia Wilde die in Justin Timberlake’s arms microseconds before he was able to pass some of his time to her. On her 50th birthday for that matter. I legit shared tears (ok Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” made me teary too but I couldn’t even watch all the scenes)
If for some weird reason you haven’t seen this movie – probably because you were kidnapped by aliens and they’ve been experimenting on you since 2011 – the synopsis is pretty simple. In a dystopian future human beings stop aging at 25 and wake up on their 25th birthdays with a clock counting down indicating they have exactly 364 days to live. Now this time is what they use for all form of transactions e.g. paying the rent, feeding, transportation, etc. Essentially like the phrase I started with; time is quite literally, money. So people work to get paid in time and if you run out, you die. Simple. And if the synopsis doesn’t interest you then the film’s cast of Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, and the gorgeous (but short-lived) Olivia Wilde should. If that still doesn’t interest you; then you’re a hopeless philistine. Seriously though, philistine or not, if you haven’t go watch the movie.
Anyway, after seeing the film, I spent a few hours (cumulatively, over the next few days) contemplating it. Reality is quite different from the movie – obviously – and probably not as dramatic but there were so many parallels to draw from.
Take stock of what has got you so preoccupied right now and ask yourself; if you woke up tomorrow morning with a timer on your arm indicating you had 1 year to live would your current preoccupation still be so important? Would you slow down to consider the important things or just go nuts because, YOLO? A lot can happen in a year.
The thing about us young people is somehow, at the back of our minds, we think we’ll remain young forever. It’s usually not a conscious thought but it’s there and evident in our actions. Now you’re in your twenties and the prime of your life, before you know it, you’re fifty and wondering where all the time went. It’s when I turned 25 that it occurred to me for the first time that I wasn’t a kid anymore.
“In Time” ended with the Bonnie & Clyde-ish pair of Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyried raging against the machine and making time available for everybody. Trust Hollywood to give you a happy unrealistic ending.
I’m glad to inform you that you don’t get to live forever; you don’t even get to remain young forever, and you know as well as I do that many things are best achieved with youth on your side; as human beings time inevitably inexorably wins. The question is what you do with it.