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All events take place in real time…

May 24, 2010

When I first read about the concept behind 24 I thought, How intriguing. The medical drama, ER, had done something similar with a live episode (Ambush, 1997), but could the concept be sustained for a whole series? Somehow they made it happen, for eight seasons. My wife and I have been faithful followers since Day 1.

Although it will be sad to bid farewell to Jack Bauer, maybe now he’ll finally get to take his granddaughter to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. But what about Jack? “Can he ever really be happy?” Scott Simon asks on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

“Well, this is the question, isn’t it?” Keifer Sutherland responds. “This is the great dilemma.” And this is what attracted him to the role; it’s why we identify with the character. Sure, Jack could save the President of the United States, but he couldn’t handle his 16-year-old daughter. He’ll never be totally happy; and, Sutherland adds, none of us are. We all start each new day with a set of expectations — and we are inevitably disappointed.

“I have never met anybody at the end of the day who said, ‘Man, I nailed it. The whole thing. All 24 hours. It was awesome,” says Sutherland. “I’ve never met a soul that’s ever said it, and neither has Jack Bauer.”

Why is happiness so hard to sustain? We catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing for the right reason, and we want it ALL THE TIME. We crave those moments the Greeks call kairos, “real time”, but they are way too few and far between. (Read more about kairos and chronos here.)

Maybe Larry Crabb is right: we’re living in a world we weren’t designed to endure. The Creator had something completely different in mind, but we screwed up and got stuck here. Maybe those kairos moments are glimpses into eternity, into what could be, what will be, if we can just get back to where we were meant to be. Maybe that’s what grace is all about.

It’s worth exploring. Who is this Creator, and why was I created? What’s my purpose? What does this have to do with Jack Bauer? Nothing. Everything. Jack Bauer wasn’t perfect. He screwed up every single day, all eight seasons. But he lived his life on purpose. He lived in real time.

What are you doing to maximize your real time, make it click, live your life on purpose? If you feel stuck, here are four questions and two activities that may help you get started. If you like what you see there, you might want to subscribe to email updates of my blog posts. (You can always unsubscribe if it turns out not to be your thing.)

If you just want something to get your blood pumping, check out the series finale of 24 tonight at 7pm CDT. And remember, all events (that matter) take place in real time.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 26, 2010 8:35 am

    Great post Richard.
    “He’ll never be totally happy; and, Sutherland adds, none of us are. We all start each new day with a set of expectations — and we are inevitably disappointed.”… what a sad outlook to have on life!

    I agree with you that living life on purpose is a key part of living in the kairos of life and I think another key aspect is to understand all that fulfills and compensates us in our lives. Setting out with a massive ‘to-do’ list every day that doesn’t include items like, “meditate in nature for a few minutes’, ‘interact with a small child and share a laugh,’ ‘go for a walk’, or ‘look into your partner’s eyes for a minute straight and smile’ sets us up for disappointment. Life is so much more than getting stuff ‘done’; it is also about appreciating what it is that fulfills us (like reading a friend’s blog!) in all the facets of our character: professional, personal, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, etc.

    • May 26, 2010 9:07 am

      A sad outlook, yes. But for me, it’s the only realistic outlook. I have never “nailed it. The whole thing. All 24 hours.” I fall short, and it goes beyond the to-do list. It includes relationships. Yesterday I told my son I’d attend a breakfast meeting in which he’ll be recognized for scholastic achievement; today I will disappoint him because I forgot that I had previously booked a business meeting for that time. And he has disappointed me and will do so again…maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday, soon, and with regularity. That’s why the spiritual dimension of purpose is so essential. To know that I am ultimately forgiven for my shortfall, and that a shortfall-free eternity awaits, makes it easier for me to forgive others when they disappoint me, and to ask their forgiveness when I disappoint them.

      Not to say that there aren’t awesome moments of joy in the here and now, and thanks for pointing that out. Those moments are worth pursuing, they ought to be pursued, and they often result from making it click and redeeming your purpose. In fact, extending and receiving grace in response to inevitable disappointments is a key component to being in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing for the right reason.

  2. May 26, 2010 3:34 pm

    Man, Richard, I wish you had been a follower of LOST too! It’s finale was Sun. and I have been pondering numerous aspects of life and theology ever since. Do you think 24 is one of those timeless TV shows that people will refer back to in 20/30 years? That’s how I felt about LOST. They’re almost like epic books, the Iliads of our time. Ok, maybe that’s a stretch. But they are entertaining and do teach some interesting lessons along the way!

    • May 26, 2010 4:07 pm

      Thanks Christina. I’ve heard lots of good things about Lost, and I watched the first couple of episodes of the first season. But I was already devoted to 24 and hadn’t quite weaned myself from ER — just couldn’t devote any more time to TV!

      Will be interesting to watch what happens with both series. I mean, Gilligan’s Island lived on for decades in syndication. Who’s to say Lost won’t follow? Personally, I like to think of Jack Bauer as the 21st Century James Bond. If Bond can sustain a franchise for over 50 years, so can Bauer, don’t you think?

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