In Time: Does Death Serve a Purpose?

In TimeDoes death serve a purpose?

The movie In Time is set in a world where time is the currency instead of money. Everyone is genetically engineered to look 25 years old forever, but once you hit 25, you only have one year left to live unless you earn more time. Not surprisingly, the poor live day to day and minute to minute. The rich live forever.

Will Salas lives in the poorest time zone. He saves the life of a rich man, with over a century on his arm, who wants to die.

“The day comes when you’ve had enough,” the rich man says after revealing he’s lived 105 years already. “Your mind can be spent, even if your body’s not. We want to die. We need to.”

While Will sleeps, the rich man gives him all his time and dies. Will ends up accused of his murder and runs for it. He travels to the richest time zone, where he wins almost 1,000 years in a poker game. The man he loses to doesn’t need that time, but his pride is wounded, so he invites Will to a dinner party where he hopes to win it back in another game.

At the party, Will meets his host’s daughter, Sylvia Weis.

“What do you do, Will?” she asks.

“I haven’t quite figured that out yet.”

“Yes, why bother?” she says in a dry voice. “What’s the hurry?”

“Right. Why do today what you can do in a century?

As they dance together, Sylvia tells him she doesn’t believe his story of “coming from time” (their way of saying old money). She saw him at a restaurant earlier in the day where he was eating a little too fast. When you don’t have much time, you try to fit as much as you can into every second.

“Sometimes I envy them,” Sylvia says, referring to the people who live in the poorest time zones.

Will frowns. “You don’t know anything.”

The clock is good for no one. The poor die, and the rich don’t live. We can all live forever as long as we don’t do anything foolish. Doesn’t that scare you? That maybe you’ll never do anything foolish, or courageous, or worth a d*mn?”

Death is terrible and sad (even if, like me, you believe in an afterlife), but perhaps facing death teaches us things we couldn’t learn otherwise.

Death imposes a deadline on us that we can’t cheat or extend. It forces us, if we’re wise, to make the most of each day.

If we want to achieve something, we’re motivated to start and work toward it rather than putting it off indefinitely.

We learn to value those we love. We cherish our time with them, celebrate each birthday. We apologize and say I love you because we never know if the words we say will be the last ones they ever hear.

We have the saying “You only live once” for a reason. It reminds us to sometimes spend a little more to go to that fancy restaurant for our anniversary. To take the trip to Europe we always talked about. To leave a lasting mark for good on the world with whatever time we have.

And I wonder if the people who do that, who live each day as if they’re not sure they’ll have another, aren’t able to meet death at the end without fear, knowing their time has been well spent.

Do you think death might serve a purpose? Are we only meant to be on this earth for a limited amount of time?

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