If I had to pick one single episode of The Twilight Zone as an absolute favorite, it would be Time Enough at Last. This is the story of Henry Bemis, who loves books but is prevented from reading them due to the demands of his job and the protests of his wife and boss. However, when civilization comes to an end due to a nuclear explosion, Henry finds that he has survived and at last he has all the time in the world for his passion of reading. He finds a library full of books and as for the rest of the plot, I won’t spoil it for you. Let’s just say the ending is the best part.
So, what is so special about this particular episode? Well, for one thing it deals with time, which is always an interesting subject. Actually, time is a recurring theme in so many Twilight Zone episodes. Sometimes there is not enough time, or too much time or time doesn’t act as we think it should. Whatever the case, I believe this episode addresses an important point about time; we will most certainly never have all of the free time we wish for. Once we realize this we can stop chasing such an illusion and start working with the time we do have, however fleeting it may be.
Think about the value we put on time and compare it’s value to almost anything else in life. Things that are scarce are much more valuable than things that are common. Therefore, we appreciate time not because of what we can accomplish with plenty of it, but because of the very nature of its scarcity. Time Enough at Last hones in on this issue in an ironic way. Just when one man thought he conquered the “problem” of time, his plan was foiled and he was left at the mercy of his environment.
If we take just one thing away from this story, let it be that the things we wish for may not be what we truly want or need in life and they just might leave us worse off than before. Think carefully about what you want and most importantly, appreciate what you have. When all else fails, remember to adapt to your surroundings. That’s probably the one thing Mr. Bemis couldn’t overcome and look where it left him.