I believe in clocks—
––Not digital, primarily, but the old-fashioned winding sort, the kind with hands, and numbers arranged in solemn procession along a silvery rim. The kind that, in certain places, following a tradition nearly as old as the sun itself, are stopped when their owner draws breath no more, and in this grieving silence resonate more fervently than ever before.
Miniature clocks, when strapped to one’s wrist, pound their insistent tread into blood, veins and nerve-threads in ceaseless mimicry of their grander versions. Their pulse pervades the body entire, with such thoroughness that when there is no ring of smiling silver-banded letters to contemplate, an internal, unequivocal march will instead suffice to tell the time.
Lest you think my scope of appreciation limited, let me affirm that I believe in the hourglass, too, in the infinitesimal trickle of sand upon sand; in sundials, the endless stretching of shadows across the curve of the earth; marked candles: in short, all forms of time-keeping—even atomic—which hearken back to those oldest of timekeepers, the stars.
But I have a special place in my heart for the humble wristwatch. These guardians, miniatures of the thrumming pulse that runs in blood and star-currents alike, make comforting familiars. They console, nag, and reproach, speeding me through my days with kind but firm guidance. Sympathetic to the last, the clock-face looks only a little smug when I concede that I should have left ten minutes earlier.
I would not give the impression that I am clock-struck, that my life centers upon some unhealthy preoccupation with being perfectly timed—that is not so. Nor do I possess any desire for such precision. I am merely conscious, as a shy person, of companionship wherever it is given, and in this exquisitely intricate world, my clock is a stalwart ally.
And there is more—a deeper motive for my confidence in clocks than mere social dis-ease: I am intrigued by the notion that time itself, its quantifiability and essence, is a wholly human invention. Time, which has so shaped this world—physically, and through consciousness—is, in effect, intangible. Clocks help to chart the course an emotion, an occupation, an experience—and yet, they measure nothing at all. Clocks twist and entwine this irregular life of whys and whens, hours and days, tracing it with slivers of time, which is eternal, which is ephemeral, and utterly fabricated.
It seems to me that moments either lunge ahead, or drag behind—and I am ever running after them, or waiting for them. Thus, without my clock’s reminder, I would have no notion of minutes, or of time passing—for when I am ensconced in work that I love, all sense of time departs.
In order to feel happiness, one must also experience intense pain. For me, in order to experience that gift of losing myself outside time, I must have the disciplined tick of a clock’s dialogue to return to.
It is for this, then, that I believe in clocks. For while I may leave the world as I work, that smiling, numbered face always waits for me. It reminds me that, for a brief while, I have been in some other, more perfect realm. So too does it hold within its silver strokes the promise of another such excursion, at some other hour, on some other day near at hand. And that is the greatest gift I can think of.
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