If I had no knowledge of clocks and calendars, how old would I be? If there were no one to tell me, would I be any age at all? But I do know. And since I do, I ask myself how this knowledge has shaped me. Has it limited my understanding? Has it expanded it? Has it done neither, or both? Moreover, I did not seek this knowledge. Like so much else, it was taught me, and, reinforced by the culture in which I live, I helped teach it to our children, who must live with it for better or for worse. If I were an animal in the forest (which of course I am when I am in the forest), there would be no need for such measurements. There would be only instinct and the promptings of the changing light, weather, and seasons. I would be free of the ancient declaration that there are years and months, and therefore weeks and days — days that are now full of minutes, and minutes of seconds, and seconds of tenths and hundredths of seconds. In the resulting peace and quiet, I might even be able to hear my own heart beating. Is it not instructive and beautiful enough that I know I am alive and that I will die? Do the time and date really matter?
October 21, 2021
In the Interim
While I chimed like a grandfather clock, my grandson† watched the movement of my tongue as if it were a pendulum. To his rapt attention, hour upon hour I tolled, until I became a horse’s hooves on cobblestone, and the mist arose, and Dickens was at the door. “I’m here!” the dear scribe cried, as if he’d joined us many times before. And, as he eyed us with a pleasure I clearly understood, the movers came and carted me away. “He was a good old clock,” their foreman said, “back in his day. I wonder what we’ll get for him?” The truck roared off. My grandson, a grown man in the interim, looked after us and waved. Or so I imagined in the cold and in the dark.
† our second, nine months old
Recently Banned Literature, January 15, 2012
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