10.12.2006

What I Learned From My Clock

Spiritual leaders teach us to live in the moment, to be present, to not fear the passage of time. I’ve never been gifted in living this way. No matter how much I try, a part of me always glances forward, partially out of concern, partially out of curiosity. In my dance with life, a clock is my metronome.

A few weeks back after a power outage in my neighborhood, the surging return of electricity murdered one of my computers. I mournfully said good-bye, removed its hard drive, and moved on.

Little did I know there was another victim in the house.

After a day lost in work, I glance to my clock radio on my nightstand – one of the many timepieces I’d reset after the outage – and am stunned by how late it is. Where has the evening gone? But then I look to the time display on the cable box. My clock radio of glowing blue numbers that has traveled with me from abode to abode since I was sixteen is about an hour and a half ahead.

I reset it to the proper time assuming I had erred earlier in the day, and go to sleep.

My internal body clock painfully reliable, I no longer depend on an alarm, so when I open my eyes the next morning and am greeted with the blue numbers screaming that I have overslept by nearly an hour, I leap up. My heart racing, I catch sight of the wall clock, which calms me by revealing that I have in fact awakened at my normal time.

I study my clock radio. As if on speed, it is racing ahead of reality at an alarming rate, gaining roughly ten minutes each hour. I can understand a power surge frying my clock, but giving it an adrenaline rush?

Due to our long history, I give the clock one more chance, resetting the time and placing it back on my nightstand. But as the day progresses, it continues to run ahead, which completely unnerves me every time I forget about its condition, the nearby wall clock called in to bring me back to reality. As if aiming to physically demonstrate that ‘time is relative,’ these two clocks continue to charge forward through the day displaying completely differing perceptions of the march of time.

Finally, in an act of self-defense, I unplug the deviant clock radio, leaving a blank black screen staring at me. I can’t toss it in the trash. We’ve been together too long.

Weeks pass. Out of curiosity, I plug the clock radio back into the wall. I want to see exactly how fast it’s racing ahead, still marveling over its ability to move at an increased rate after a jolt of energy. But to my surprise, after a day of operation, the clock is in sync with my others, not gaining or losing time.

And oddly enough, I’m sad. When the clock moved at its own rate, as annoying as it was, it sang with personality. It refused to honor the duty bestowed upon it by its maker. It embraced a life of rebellion, albeit an amped up and slightly neurotic one, appearing unable to live calmly in the moment.

Like someone else I know.

Suddenly I wonder if for those odd few days, my clock was mimicking my behavior like cohabitants who live together for too long and begin to assume a shared personality. With my clock’s odd behavior, I certainly started to look at my own obsession with time.

While I suspect there’s a reasonable, scientific explanation for the journey my clock has taken, I’m not willing to let go of the mystery of the magical clock. I now look to it repeatedly throughout the day, not to check the time, but to check on the clock, to see if it’s honoring its duty to the local time zone or running ahead on its own accord.

So far it’s staying loyal to its job. At first I didn’t think I’d be able to trust this clock again, to have faith I could depend on it to wake me for a critical early morning departure. But as I stare at my old friend, I realize I either keep the clock and return to a place of trusting it or toss it out. The middle ground is pointless. Just like in any relationship where a break in behavior throws you off track, time is the healer. Funny what you can learn from a clock.

9 comments:

V-Grrrl said...

"In my dance with life, my clock is my metronome." Perfectly expressed.

I've made great strides in learning to live in the moment--but doing so keeps me out of step with just about everyone I know.

jen said...

funny what you can learn from a blog, too. i loved your post. and v-grrl already grabbed your best line, but still. ditto.

Yasser said...

wait if you live in the moment do u need a clock?

Spill The Beans said...

Beautiful post, Dee Zee. I love how you can take the simplest things and turn them into profound thoughts. Well done, you.

acumamakiki said...

It's amazing how watching time does this. My watch had suddenly done something similar, my old faithful wasn't and it really threw me off. Now it's just off and needs repair although I've gone back, hoping like your clock that its glitch would be gone.

Anonymous said...

keeping time sucks, I hate the fact that so much of my life during the week is time orientated, and at the weekend - still in pyjamas at 2pm, now that rocks

fringes said...

Is this my first time visiting your blog? What took me so long? I like it here...thanks for leaving a comment in my space over the weekend!

ecm said...

Great last paragraph. I really liked...

"Just like in any relationship where a break in behavior throws you off track, time is the healer."

It's amazing that you can get to there from a clock :)

Jim Miller said...

Just think depending how fast your clock runs ahead you may never be late for anything again this could be a good thing.