In the action-drama television series “24,” Agent Jack Bauer works with the Counter Terrorist Unit to identify and terminate terrorism threats to the United States. Since its debut in 2001, each of the show’s 10 seasons has been saturated with drama, plot twists and action, all with one unique element: The show takes place in real time, meaning 60 minutes of viewing.
With 24 one-hour episodes showing a minute-by-minute unfolding of the plot, each season depicts exactly one day in the life of Agent Bauer, giving the show a vastly different tone than many other comparable shows like “C.S.I.” and “Criminal Minds” that jump ahead, skipping what are deemed inconsequential elements.
I can’t help but think of my dad when “24” comes to mind. I specifically recall one Christmas break about five years ago during which he watched the entire series (at that time, nine seasons) on DVD over the course of two weeks during the quiet moments we spent snowed in at my grandparents’ house in Nebraska.
The show has an iconic “countdown” sound that plays for a few seconds before and after every commercial break. For some reason, the beeps that make up the countdown are significantly and disproportionately louder than the dialogue and other sound elements of the show, so we always knew when Dad was watching, even if we were on the other side of the house. There is no doubt in my mind that he watched that entire series. To this day, that countdown sound occasionally haunts me.
While it may seem that a real-time show such as “24” would move slowly, the pacing is actually oftentimes suspenseful and tense. There is a lot of complexity in each day if you’re looking for it.
“24” was always determined not to let its viewers forget that a lot can happen in 24 hours.
In the middle of a season of life that seems to be filled to the brim with obligations, deadlines and time crunches, I often forget how important each hour and day is. If I’m not careful, I get caught up in the drama of papers due next week, interviews needing to be set up, and to-do lists I haven’t even written, but I’m somehow already behind on. Even now as we work on assembling this current issue of The Bison, I am pondering the tasks I need to take care of for next week’s copy.
“I don’t have enough time,” seems to be a recurring thought.
Time isn’t slipping by — it’s dashing past with barely a passing glance, leaving me shaking my head and thinking only about the big pictures, the weeks left until Thanksgiving, the months before graduation. Honestly, a mere 24 hours seems fairly inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
Yet so much can happen.
Tonight, members of Campus Players will kick off their annual 24-hour playwriting event in which participants write, cast, direct and perform an entire play in a single day. Then, later this weekend, my family will pull up to Searcy in our family Suburban for a quick visit totaling about — you guessed it — 24 hours. I’ve been looking forward to their arrival for weeks. I can’t stop thinking about how refreshing my day with them is going to be, even though it won’t last long.
In 24 hours, there are opportunities to encourage friends. There are chances to reconnect with those you’ve lost touch. There are moments to stop and listen. We have time to do so much good and appreciate so many blessings in 24 hours, but we’re often so busy worrying that there isn’t enough time to do x, y and z.
Agent Bauer always recognized the power of 24 hours. If he could, why can’t we? We may not all be able to save the country from imminent doom every day, but we can all do at least a few things each day to work for good.
The next time you’re thinking, “I just don’t have time,” remember that you do have 24 hours — and that’s a whole lot of time to do something good.