Vertical Venetian Blind Shadows on Clock
A Nebulous Number of Days of Atomity and Memory
Prisoners of Time
In my rather compact home I have five clocks, two of whose movements perished long ago, but I retain the deceased ones for decorative purposes. My stove’s clock also expired years ago. I thought it needed a fuse replacement, but that attempted fix did not resuscitate it. In addition, I have six watches, one of whose batteries transitioned to inutility and, although it’s my favourite watch (both stylistically and because I purchased it in Prague), I haven’t had the opportunity to replace it due to current events.
I also have a small hour-glass encased in acrylic along with random watch parts including wheels and pinions. And, my refrigerator contains a timer which I’ve had replaced a few times over the years. It regulates the freezer’s automatic defrosting cycle, but when it ceases to function, my refrigerator shuts down, so it seems to be the appliance’s heart. Moreover, there’s a digital alarm clock by my bed, though I have not used the alarm function in over a year.
Besides all of these devices, I have countless digital gismos that keep time including clocks in my personal video recorder, a jukebox CD player, a desktop computer, three laptops (one of which is closeted away and belongs in a museum), two mobile phones (one of which is stored under my bed because it only works if the phone is plugged in), my analogue phone / answering machine from the Twilight Zone, an iPod in my home and a second one that I keep in a locker in my complex’s gym (which hasn’t been accessible for most of the pandemic), a tablet, and two e-readers. In my Smart Car, I have a clock that sits on top of the dashboard (part of a tachometer / clock option I chose for the vehicle) as well as one included in the instrument panel. And then there’s the timekeeping that takes place in my head. I still suffer from a touch of OCD, so there are a few things I still regularly count out, such as how many seconds I mix up my fruit and veggie smoothies in my Vitamix blender or how many calming breaths I take to…calm down.
Fortunately, during most of my working career, I had forgiving employers who turned a blind eye to my punctual dysfunctionality. Despite all these internal and external clocks, I was late more times than not. I was only on time for work meetings, and even then, I didn’t always succeed. I’ve also been consistently late for performances, classes, dates with friends and family, movies, catching trains, and occasionally, but rarely, planes. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been resistant to being ruled by clocks, and regretfully, it has sometimes come off as lack of consideration for other people’s time – which was never my intention. There was just something about the way our culture demands punctuality that has always perturbed me. I have felt it was an unnatural way to operate – that we were fighting against the way humans were inherently meant to live – in other words, it isn’t authentic to ourselves.
What has been surprising to me in the past year is that I haven’t been able to fully wind down since I stopped working in the 9-to-5 world – it has only just dawned on me that a major reason for that is because my bubble of a home is over-wound with the presence of time-keepers. And because of being relegated to so much isolation I, like everyone else, have been pondering time much more than I have previously – how slow it’s going most days and other times how quickly this past year has swept behind us.
For the most part, I’ve recaptured my circadian rhythm, my own natural body clock, but it took a long time. It’s been more difficult for me to take the pressure off myself to be ‘productive’ at this time. I still have many moments when I feel out of step with most others I know because I haven’t cleaned out my storage locker, I haven’t renovated every available space in my home (or any space for that matter), I haven’t assembled 300 puzzles, I haven’t decluttered, and I’ve just barely ventured into writing my newest novel. But my world, according to social media, seems hell bent on making me feel like I am running out of time to do all these things. Am I really?
There are much grander issues at play with time, but we’re all on the spectrum somewhere – feeling like we have too much time on our hands (particularly while in lockdown) or feeling like time is running out, feeling like we’ve given too much time to someone, not enough time to someone else, that we’ve done something at the wrong time in our life, or that there’s no right time for something. I did start to make peace with my own personal struggles with time many years back, but the process is on-going.
One of the first things that came to change my understanding of time was Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and, subsequently, his more accessible A New Earth. Thanks to these works, I discovered that the past nor the future exist, so the only moment that is real and that counts is the present. This realization ended much of my torment about things that happened in the past and considerably curbed my worrying about the future.
Then came a deeper understanding of soul journeys and soul lessons thanks to Gary Zukav’s The Seat of the Soul. The book taught me a lot about how souls choose their parents, siblings, and children, in addition to choosing the lessons we learn on Earth as spiritual beings while having human experiences. And over the years, it became very clear to me that our lives unravel just as they are intended and at just the right moment. It also resonated with me that we don’t have to do everything in this lifetime. Believing that we have just this one opportunity to do it all, takes us out of living in and being present in our lives. Furthermore, carrying regrets about having done something or not having done something is counterproductive for the soul. Everything is an opportunity to learn, to progress, to become a more conscious being.
I still have much work to do to more fully live in the moment, but I know I have the time to do so, and there are signs I’m making even more progress. I haven’t been wearing any of my six watches, and that’s new for me – but also the result of being forced to live a cloistered life at this time. In addition, the fact that it took me approximately nine days to adjust to the recent daylight savings time change of a mere hour, was annoying but is also an indication that I hadn’t artificially yielded to the loss of an hour.
I always try to keep in mind one of Deepak Chopra’s most famous quotes and I often share it with others, “Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment.” So, I’m doing my best not to be the prisoner of time I once was. I’ll be divesting myself of some of my clocks when I finally get to renovating – all in good time.