The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom (2012)
Fiction | Historical/Contemporary | Fantasy/Fable
“In this fable, the first man on earth to count the hours becomes Father Time.
The inventor of the world’s first clock is punished for trying to measure God’s greatest gift. He is banished to a cave for centuries and forced to listen to the voices of all who come after him seeking more days, more years. Eventually, with his soul nearly broken, Father Time is granted his freedom, along with a magical hourglass and a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.
He returns to our world – now dominated by the hour-counting he so innocently began – and commences a journey with two unlikely partners: one a teenage girl who is about to give up on life, the other a wealthy old businessman who wants to live forever. To save himself, he must save them both. And stop the world to do so.”
pooled ink Review:
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.
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.
A friend was reading this book way back when we were in high school and she shared that quote with me. It stuck with me, although I could never remember the exact words, and now almost 7 years later I have finally read the book it comes from.
This book isn’t very long, and in truthfulness it’s rather simple. There are few characters, few settings, the writing isn’t particularly complex or fanciful. This book essentially shares the stories of three people, whose lives intersect one fateful night, and this moment changes everything.
“Make it stop.”
The characters are normal people. They aren’t shocking or impossible or unique, they’re simply people. True the main character, Dor/Father Time, is taken from his very normal life to be brought into a life lesson which adds a bit of fantasy to this book, but even so at the heart of him he is still human, still normal, still quite easy to imagine as real.
In this cave you will not age a moment.
I deserve no such gift.
It is not a gift.
The plot follows a simple path mostly. Although it does hop back and forth between Dor, Sarah, and Victor, until at last they all stand in the same room. And while you may easily guess the lesson and purpose of this story, it still feels somehow enlightening when you read it for yourself. The ending isn’t exactly sad, and yet I found my eyes wanting to cry.
I think what makes this book stand out with a quiet profoundness is its simplicity. Normally I hunt for books filled with action, excitement, exhilarating twists and turns, and new worlds. But that quote kept humming gently in the back of my mind and I confess that I’m in a place in my life where I think I needed to read this book most. I’m sure I would’ve liked it if I’d read it sooner (then again, who can really say?) but reading it now it struck a chord within me. It’s too easy to let the world dictate our lives and let ourselves be blinded to that fact insisting that we are separate and above such obvious influences. But I am not, and I have not met anyone in my life who is.
There was always a quest for more minutes, more hours, faster progress to accomplish more in each day. The simple joy of living between sunrises was gone.
In short this book tells the story of Father Time and through sharing his story and following the lives of Sarah and Victor, it teaches us to open our eyes to time. Hard as we try time is not ours to control and in fact by trying to do so, by orbiting our lives around this concept of time, we merely prop a measuring stick against our lives to which we will never be satisfied.
Sometimes, when you are not getting the love you want, giving makes you think you will.
We make all sorts of ludicrous demands for time, as if it is ours to control. Sure being able to measure time is certainly useful for many things and by it we can do many things, but it can also lead us to do so much less. This book is not telling us to burn our calendars and smash our clocks, it is asking us to have faith and look deeper.
This really was a fantastic book and I’m not sure there is anything so universally relatable as this book and its stories about the relationships between humans and time. Because of its simplicity it is not alienating, but inviting. For who has not at least once in their life made a request of time?
We all yearn for what we have lost. But sometimes, we forget what we have.
Told in a simple rhythm, like that of a folktale, The Time Keeper shares a story both gentle and profound that we could all learn from. Perhaps you will read it and scoff or yawn and continue with life as you always have, or perhaps it will give you pause, make you think, sit in silence for a moment full of thought and make a choice.
Purchase here: The Time Keeper
Meet Mitch Albom!
Mitchell David Albom is an author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster and musician. His books have collectively sold over 35 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages around the world; and have been made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies.