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Madison Sorensen
Kasey Cadavy
November 21, 2015
Choices for the Time Being
In Ruth Ozekis novel, A Tale for the Time Being, a young girl named Nao writes in a
diary about her struggles and a little about her wise, 104 year old grandma, Jiko. Her diary is
eventually lost in a Tsunami and is later discovered by Ruth, a young married woman living in
Canada. Ruth reads Naos diary and learns about the life of Nao. Every beings time is valuable
and should be taken advantage of, not purposely shortened when life gets hard.
Ozekis main focus of is this idea of time, and time beings which is introduced in the very
beginning of Naos diary. A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and
me, and everyone who is, or was, or will ever be (Ozeki 3). This belief of time beings that Nao
writes about is carried throughout the book and left up for interpretation. Each person is placed
on this earth with a given amount of time, which makes everyone a time being, someone that is
being until their time is up. What each person decides to do with their allotted time is up to each
At the beginning of the novel Nao writes in the diary about her feelings of her time as a
being on earth. The truth is that very soon Im going to graduate from time, or maybe I
shouldnt say graduate because that makes it sound as if Ive actually met my goals and deserve
to move onMaybe instead of graduate, I should say Im going to drop out of time. Drop out.

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Time out. Exit my existence(Ozeki 6-7). Nao has decided that she is done with her time; she
wants to take control of her time being by ending it. She is unsatisfied and has not met goals she
had hoped she might accomplish during her time. I think its important to have clearly defined
goals in life...Because if you dont have clear goals, you might run out of time, and when that
day comes, youll find yourself standing on the parapet of a tall building, or sitting on your bed
with a bottle of pills in your hand, thinking, Shit! I blew it(Ozeki 6). This describes her view of
life and her belief that time should mean something, so that one does not find themselves in the
depths of despair at the end.
Another example of a person who has decided they would rather end their life, than make
a change is Naos father. He is jobless and has had to move his family to Japan where it has been
nothing but struggles. He becomes hopeless and lost, and the way he views life and his choices
of wanting to end his life effect Naos decision to shorten her time. Ruth meets Naos father in a
dream to tell him about his decisions effect not only his life, but his daughters. How do you
suppose shes going to feel if you abandon her? Its not something shell ever get over. She
knows what youre up to, and if you go through with this, she intends to kill herself, too(Ozeki
352). Ozeki is demonstrating an example of how ones choices of how to use their time effect
other time beings around them. Another example from the novel about time beings being effected
by other time beings is shown when Nao writes, I am selfish, and I only cared about my own
stupid life, just like my dad only cared about his own stupid lifeand now its too late(Ozeki
340). Naos father only cared about his own sorrow, which Nao learns by his example to quit
when time on this earth becomes too hard.
An example of a character in A Tale for the Time Being who chooses to spend their life as
a more positive person is old Jiko. She lives as a monk in a temple, worshipping and spending

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her life in service. Nao writes much about how wise she believes her great grandma Jiko to be.
Old Jiko is super careful with her time. She does everything really really slowlyShe says she
does everything really really slowly in order to spread time out so that shell have more of it and
live longer(Ozeki 25). Although Nao admires Jiko for her success with her time, she still is
deeply influenced by the choices her father makes with his time.
A Tale for the Time Being is an intriguing yet somewhat depressing book, but Ruth Ozeki
is still able to share a positive message. And that message being that each person is free to chose
how they spend their time, even if that means taking ones life. Although ending ones life is not
the overall message that the author is trying to convey. Ozekis overall point is that time on earth
as a time being is nonrefundable, destined to come to an end at some point and should be used
to the fullest.