Mitch Albom on the joy of running out of time

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First aired on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight (21/8/13)

Mitch Albom isn't afraid to tackle the big questions: life, death and faith. His parables about living a meaningful life have struck a chord with millions. His particular brand of hopefulness was introduced to the world in 1997, when he published Tuesdays with Morrie -- which spent four years on the New York Times bestsellers list and is considered the most successful memoir of all time. Since then, the former sportswriter has built a career on writing feel-good books that inspire and tug at the old heart-strings. Last year, he published his most recent book, a fable about time and how to make it count, called The Time Keeper.


Albom became interested in writing about time as he began to look his own mortality head on. He turned 50 a few years ago and he watched his own parents enter old age. "I've watched them go from robust people to people needing to be taken care of," Albom told George Stroumboulopoulos in a recent interview. He began to notice just how obsessed society was with time and youth and old age -- and began to wonder if this obsession was hurting us more than helping us. "It's always 'watch watch watch' and I thought, this is probably a good subject for a book. Let me try that."

In The Time Keeper, Albom introduces readers to the man who invented time, which he is eventually punished for. "He gets banished to a cave for inventing time and he has to live in this cave forever listening to all the voices of all the people who come after him complaining about time." As Albom began to write, he began to realize how essential time is when it comes to making our lives matter. Albom believes there's a reason we all have a limited number of days on earth -- it's so we can make each one of them count. "If you lived forever, nothing would matter," he said.

This is the message Albom tries to get across in his new book and it's one he tries to live fully each and every day. But he's not worried about running out of time. Thanks to people like Morrie and his parents, he sees the value in getting old. "I have seen the delight of being old. I have seen the gift of being old and sharing the wisdom you have with younger people," he said. "I am looking forward to getting the blessing of reaching old age to try to revel in it."

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