In the delightful metaphysical romantic-comedy About Time, Domhnall Gleeson plays Tim, a young man who comes from a family whose male members have the ability to time travel.
Initially, Tim uses time travel to alter events. Later in the movie Tim’s father, played by Bill Nighy, advises Tim to simply use time travel to relive the same day, not by altering events, but by being more present. Tim’s father advises, “Live every day again almost exactly the same, the first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us from noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing.”
Tim follows his father’s advice and sees how, for the ordinary events of life such as commuting and buying his lunch, he is not present at all. Tim is a lawyer and even a victory in the courtroom is a muted colorless event when he is not mentally present. Reliving the day allows him to be fully present. He knows the outcomes already, so the worry and anxiety is gone.
But Tim is able to surpass his father’s teachings. He begins to see that he is generating his own worry and anxiety via his thinking. Tim then chooses to live events in real time without his thinking clouding his enjoyment of the day. Tim learns to bring peace to the moment rather than expecting life to bring peace to him.
As Tim explains how he has now come to live his life, the wonderful Ron Sexsmith song “Gold in Them Hills” plays in the background with this opening refrain: “I know it doesn’t seem that way, but maybe it’s the perfect day.” Tim no longer “travels back, not even for a day.” Instead, Tim continues, “I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day. To enjoy it as if it was the final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”
Has Tim really discovered what life is about? Suppose we are all fundamentally the same? Nothing, but own choice, is keeping us from experiencing peace and love. At every moment we have a choice of an internal teacher whose guidance we will follow, the voice of the ego or of Love.
In our mind we hear the voice of our ego speaking of fear, anxiety, worry, and guilt. Our ego has set up a system where, once we are in its thoughtworld, we see the cause of our problems as outside of ourselves. We try to fix these external “causes.” Yet, our state of mind is the cause; what we see in the world is an effect of our thinking. As long as we remain unaware of our projections, there is no way out; we do not turn inward to look at the actual cause.
There is another voice that speaks with wisdom and Love–a voice that arises from the place where we all are one–we can call the place Wholeness.
Tim learns to undo the effects of his ego by being mindfully present. We can be mindful when we are aware of our feelings—our anxiety, isolation, anger, fear—without judging or justifying our feelings. We can recognize that the cause of our unease is our decision to choose our ego instead of Love. When we look no longer for the cause where it is not—in the world—we are no longer fixated on honoring our ego’s thoughts.
In his book There is a Place Where You Are Not Alone, Hugh Prather writes: “Time cannot bring me anything. It can only serve me now.” Hugh is pointing out that we are mistaken to take the ego’s advice to put off the choice for peace until someday in the future, when our circumstances are aligned the way we dream they should be.
How are we using time today? Are we ignoring the present moment by thinking the future holds the key to our happiness? Are we ignoring the present moment by thinking that the past, rather than our present thoughts, is encumbering us? In About Time, Tim learns the choice is his. Like Tim, we all must learn that the choice is ours. Love exists in eternity, and eternity exists only Now.