What A Richard Curtis Movie Taught Me About Life and Love and Being in the Moment

Perhaps (one) of the most embarrassing admissions I can make in writing this blog is that I am a sucker for Richard Curtis films. Now, I may just be trying to rationalize, but my admiration of Curtis started after seeing him speak at the Global Leadership Summit in 2007. I was sitting there with my wife and was in awe of the intentionality of his storytelling. It was purposeful, magical, and full of what’s best in life. 

Years later, a “macho” buddy told me about Curtis’ movie About Time. The film tells the story of how a lovesick 21-year-old uses time travel in the best possible way to find love, all the while being “coached” by his father, James — played brilliantly by Bill Nighy. The movie is full of funny moments and re-dos. It even leaves us wishing we, too, could have a few do-overs! 

FYI, if you’re interested in watching About Time, it’s streaming on Netflix as of March 2022.


I am not one who wants to give away a movie. That said, for this post, I have to give something away. So if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know the spoiler, please stop reading here — do not continue beyond the image below.  

Image courtesy BBFC, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39394371

Notice How Sweet it Can Be

The movie’s biggest surprise comes when the main character, Tim, discovers that his dad has terminal cancer. Tim immediately thinks that time travel could somehow change this reality. Unfortunately, Tim cannot do this without undoing the relationships he has discovered along the way, most notably the love of his life. And as he would later find out, the ramifications would be far more reaching than even that! 

Tim’s dad, James, had already put all this together. In fact, for years, he had been going back in time to relive moments with family. James then looks into the face of a teary-eyed Tim and tells him to live each day going forward twice. First with all the everyday worries and tensions, but the second time noticing how sweet the world can be. 

Soon after this conversation, James dies of cancer. But Tim can still go back in time to be with his father, so this is not the end…yet. 

Then Tim’s wife wants to add another child to their family. Tim realizes that when this child is born, he will no longer be able to travel back in time to see his father without “erasing” his child. What a dilemma!

The movie culminates nine months later when Tim travels back in time to see his dad one final time. He and his dad play ping-pong together. Tim then tells his dad that he wants to kiss him. This clues James into the truth —this is the last time he will see his son. Taking this in, James takes Tim, and together they travel back in time one last time to when Tim was a small child. The movie ends with the two of them together on the beach.  

It is arguably the most emotionally raw and beautiful scene one can imagine — or at least any parent could imagine. 

Time Catches Up with All of Us

To the best of my knowledge, I do not presently have any significant health concerns. But, my time will come. As James says in the movie, “Time catches up to all of us, my son.” 

It will catch up to me, as it will to you. 

I have been getting lost in the cares, tensions, and busyness of life. These days, it is natural to do so, and I will not beat myself up over it. 

But early in March, I found myself in Orlando with my family. We were at Epcot, there was not a cloud in the sky, and it was extremely crowded. 

Our kids are 10, 8, and 5. I may have a little more time with Sadie (5) than I do with the boys — I hope at least. But time will catch up here too. 

So there I was, walking through Epcot with Will (10) and Ben (8). They were holding my hands. Ben kept grasping, and I wished he would never let go. Will never does this anymore, yet in the crowded park, he did. And for a moment, all my worries, tensions, and stressors dissipated. 

There I was in the moment with my boys. No distractions. No agenda. It was just us. And I thought that this day might be the day that I would go back to… 

The day when I could just be with my boys. 

The depth of that joy is and was indescribable. 

Find Your Moment in Time

I share here to invite you to find your own moment in time. Often, the summer is full of opportunities for such. So go make a moment this summer. Make a moment with a friend, spouse, or grandkid. 

Like a Curtis film, craft a story of joy for the world to see. 

This is the ultimate way to refill the tank. 

And like Tim, may we all learn the lesson that life is best lived by living each day once. Let’s seek and find the goodness amid life’s busyness and stress. 

There is no better way to live.