When the alarm went off on my phone this morning, digital bells obnoxiously loud, my darling husband mumbled the obvious, your alarm is going off.
Unfortunately for him, by the time I turned it off, he was awake enough to be annoyed, so he decided to take advantage of his wakeful state to complain about a clock in the living room. This clock has not worked in 30 years. Until now. Apparently, it has a very loud gong that can be heard in our bedroom. Who knew?
This is funny for two reasons. 1) We have a houseful of clocks, including a Black Forest Cuckoo Clock that is much louder than this one, and 2) not one clock in the house keeps proper time. Not. One.
I’d like to think this is part of some grand scheme to fool Time, but I know better than that.
The truth is that we’ve turned into accidental collectors. We have a marble mantle clock that belonged to John’s grandmother, a Pony Express clock that belonged to his father, the offending brass clock in the living room, a kitschy cuckoo clock and the real deal, and a clock that one of John’s pals made for me, assuming that I collected clocks. Well, I guess I do.
The startling thing about all those clocks is that they don’t keep time. More startling is that I am somehow OK with this. I mean – somewhere down the line you’d think I’d fix them or set them or wind them or whatever it is you’re supposed to do with a clock.
I guess. But really, this apathetic attitude probably comes from a fluid sense of time. Someone recently pointed out that my own sense of time is distorted. Apparently, and I own up to this, when I say “the other day” it could mean last Thursday. Or a Thursday sometime in 2007. Look. The latter is the other day…just another day a long time ago, right?
Perhaps this has something to do with recent events in my life that have me facing mortality (heh, heh, by recent I mean in 2009, when my husband was diagnosed with ALS, or for those of you who prefer recent to mean in the last month – my own troubles with high blood pressure). I don’t think so. Those clocks have been stuck in time for decades.
However, these recent events have had an impact on how I choose to spend my time. And that’s not something a clock can tell. Living in the moment is an art. It takes effort, and commitment. And lots of practice.
You could say that all those clocks in my house are stuck in time – stuck in the past. Or you could say they are a pregnant pause in the present. Waiting and capturing a moment.
Whatever. Maybe they are an indication that the owner has better things to do – perhaps she’s being present to the moments happening around her.
This sense of presence, however, is more than carpe diem. Yes, I want to seize the day – I get that every day is a gift and an opportunity, but there’s more to it than that. It speaks to the choices we make, and the consequences of those choices. I don’t want to be seizing my day in a selfish, hedonistic way that fritters away my life, or worse, ruins my afterlife.
Blessed Pope John Paul II once used a Polish proverb that brought home this point stunningly,
Time flies, eternity waits.
Whoa. I guess eternity is going to be here a lot sooner than I expect. Those clocks I have scattered about are reminding me to be ready now because I won’t know the time.