I recently watched the Richard Curtis film, About Time. I love the movie and I’ve seen it many times but it never fails to inspire me.The movie always makes me want to be a better man. And, at least for a short time after seeing it, convinces me that I can be.
The film has been out for some time so I’m not going to worry about plot spoilers. Anyway, because the film holds up even after multiple viewings, I don’t think plot spoilers spoil it.
Curtis tells the story of a young man, Tim, who learns that all the males in his family have the ability to travel back in time. They can’t go to the future and they can’t go to a time they’ve not lived through. They can visit the past, but only their own past. And, by inserting themselves once again into the events of their own past, they can change their personal history.
This strikes me as something that might be an underlying goal of our time in the confessional. As a fairly new Catholic, I am awed by what happens in that little booth. I walk into the church with the weight of a current sin riding on my shoulders. I prepare myself to enter the confessional and generally, just before I go into the confessional,that weight becomes greater. I wonder how I can continue if that burden isn’t lifted. And , of course, I can’t. It needs to be confessed. I enter the booth opposite the parish priest. “Bless me Father, for I have sinned,” I begin. And then comes the confession. The marvelous confession. The beautiful confession followed by the life giving forgiveness. I want to be a better man. And walking from the confessional I believe I can be.
Confession is like the time travel in About Time. You can go back in time and revisit a sinful attitude, change it by repentance, and go forward as though it never happened. You have changed the past, and you can now walk forward into a different future.
But, the real point of our lives is not to wait for that time in the booth to unburden ourselves. I think it’s the living of our lives within the realization that life is fleeting. Time is short. We should live our lives in a state of constant post-confessional renewal. We need to appreciate the tiny things in our live that are really great gifts from our God. Let’s not muddy them with anger, conceit, greed, bitterness or envy. Each time I come from confession and each time I see About Time, I think I can do that. I think I can recognize that each day, every situation, each person I meet is an opportunity to enhance the daily bits of joy God has placed into my life.
And, of course, that’s the point made in the movie. The lead alters his time travel in that he begins going back in time solely to respond to events as he should have done in the first place. He corrects himself. He repents. He, in effect, goes to confession and exits a better man. But then, he stops travelling back in time altogether. He doesn’t feel the need. Instead he purposes to concentrate on the present as he enjoys each tiny success and embraces each bit of pain.
The movie closes with Tim revealing his discovery. And it’s one we can all benefit from. He says, “And in the end I think I’ve learned the final lesson from my travels in time; and I’ve even gone one step further than my father did: The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day, 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 full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”