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Summary: I remember day-dreaming in a boring lecture at theological college one day, when the lecturer stopped and asked, ’Mr John, will you tell me why you keep looking at your watch?’ I had to think quickly. ’Yes, sir,’ I said. ’I was concerned that you might no

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2000, Dreamworks

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt

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I remember day-dreaming in a boring lecture at theological college one day, when the lecturer stopped and asked, ’Mr John, will you tell me why you keep looking at your watch?’ I had to think quickly. ’Yes, sir,’ I said. ’I was concerned that you might not have time to finish your interesting lecture.’

Someone who perhaps paid a little more attention in their classes, Albert Einstein, once said, ’When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.’ Time plays a significant role in our lives, and we can’t ever seem to shake it off.

In Cast Away, Tom Hanks plays Chuck Noland, a manic Federal Express trouble-shooter who travels the world at a moment’s notice. Both his professional and personal life are ruled by the clock, and the words, ’time’, ’watch’ and ’pager’ are spoken of twenty-four times in the first fifteen minutes. Early in the film, Noland, a man seemingly in control of everything, gives a speech on the theme of time to a group of Russian Federal Express employees.

Clip One: The Speaking Clock

A boy runs over a bridge, clutching a parcel with Federal Express labels on it. It’s snowy and cold. He keeps running. We cut to the scene inside what looks like a warehouse, where Chuck Noland is lecturing Russian Federal Express employees on the virtues of timekeeping. It’s all a battle against the relentless march of time, he argues passionately. Clocks tick away as his visual aid to people of another country, another culture, for whom this idea seems a little foreign. A Russian translator keeps up with his increasingly frenetic exhortations to ’keep time’.

Suddenly, he notices that the boy with the parcel is before him, panting. He grabs it, and opens it. ’What could it be?’ he asks, patronisingly. His tone prompts sarcasm from the translator, who says something he can’t understand.

Pulling out the contents, it’s . . . another clock, a stopwatch, in fact, that he sent to himself by Federal Express and which he started the moment he left Memphis for Russia. It has taken eighty-seven hours, twenty-two minutes and seventeen seconds for the package to arrive.

Too long! It’s just not good enough!

What if the parcel had been something really important?

Noland then turns to the job in hand: the Russians have a pile of packages that must be gathered and loaded onto a truck in under fifteen minutes to be sent to the airport. ’It’s crunch time,’ he declares. ’Let’s go!’

If Only there was Enough Time

I’m sure you’d agree that the pace of life is hectic. We talk of the ’peak’ or ’rush’ hour. We are always telling our children to ’hurry up, get a move on!’ It is because our days are too full and because they move too fast that we never seem to catch up with ourselves. Our work and the demands upon us seem to expand to fit all the time that we have. Time is increasingly in short supply. And we spend a good deal of our time complaining about it.

How often have you heard yourself, or others say, ’If only I had the time’? Or, ’There’s never enough time.’ ’I don’t know where the time goes.’ ’But how do you find the time?’ ’I’m hard pressed for time at present.’ ’I’ll try to find time.’ ’Is that the time already?’ ’My, how time flies!’ ’Could you fit in time?’ ’I’m short of time.’ ’Mustn’t waste time, must we?’ ’I just ran out of time.’ ’I don’t even get time to think.’

We have a wide range of other expressions as well: ’I haven’t got a moment to spare.’ ’There are never enough hours in the day.’ ’We always seem to be on the go.’ ’There’s always so much to do.’ ’I never seem to stop.’ ’We’re flat out at the moment.’ ’I’ve just got to rush.’ ’The week’s simply flown.’ ’Back to the treadmill.’ ’No rest for the wicked.’ Then, there’s the revealing invitation: ’You must come around some time . . . ’

The pace of many people’s lives is literally killing them. We have bought into the crazy idea that the busier we are, the more important our life is. We live in a society in which the expression ’time is money’ has come to refer to the value of time. The only problem with this is that money cannot buy more time. We forget that money can be replaced, but time can never be replaced. We would be far richer as individuals and as a society if we were to say that ’time is priceless’. Then we might treat it with more respect.

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