… In Time: the part where his mother is running for her life [spoiler alert].
In In Time, Will Salas and his mother Rachel live in a world where time is currency; people stay young forever, so they are programmed at birth to have only a certain amount of time to live. If someone’s little electronic arm-display goes to zero, the program stops the person’s heart, and he dies. As you might expect, the “rich” – the ones with hundreds of years on their arm-displays – horde time, while the “poor” have to work all day just to earn enough time to live until morning. The rich live in one part of the city, and the poor live in another part, separated by concrete walls and roadblocks; the rich move slowly and leisurely, while the poor, having to accomplish as much as possible in the brief time they’re given, move quickly. They don’t mosey, or stroll, or dawdle. They run.
Will has come into some extra time that he will give to his mother as soon as she gets home on the bus. He has a bouquet of flowers for her. He’s excited to see her. But when the bus arrives, she’s not on it. The city raised the bus fare to two hours for a trip, but Rachel only has two hours left. She’s obliged to run, hoping she can get home before her display drains to zero. She runs through the dark, empty streets; she runs for the two hours, sprinting, her bare feet slapping the pavement as she flies with all her strength. She runs, and catches sight of Will, who has realized what must have happened and is running toward her as fast as she is running toward him. They see each other, and run toward each other, and … she’s too late.
Our lives aren’t printed on electronic displays on our arms. Unlike the people in the movie, we can’t earn more hours by working harder, or steal them in a poker game. We don’t know how long we have; at any moment any one of us could die. So does that mean we should all start moving a little faster, and doing as much as possible in the brief and unpredictable time we have? – not at all. In fact, I think we should slow down, and move much more slowly, and just be – as intensely as possible for whatever length of life we’re given. Rachel had the opportunity to know exactly how long she would live; she responded by living her life as fully as she could, by running with all of her strength and will and soul to cling to a life she knew was precious and fleeting. So often, we just go through the motions of our lives, not even aware that time is ticking by, not able to run for our lives even if we wanted to. We don’t see our lives – our time – as a gift that can drain away; we don’t have passion for our lives.
Maybe things didn’t end well for Rachel … but in the two hours she spent running – toward her son, her life, her chance – she lived with more passion than a lot of people in the real world ever, ever do.