The Tyranny of Time

big clock

more time, more time, more time

Twice a year, I get the idea that I might have too many clocks. Today is one of those days as I participate in the national pastime of trying to figure out why we need Daylight Savings Time.

If it’s true I have too many clocks, it would be an odd situation considering I’m a person who hates the tyranny of clocks and punctuality.

At about the age of 30, I started the high ceremony of The Removal of the Watch. This ritual took place every Friday upon my arrival home from work. Until Sunday at approximately 6 p.m., I paid no attention to time – I slept when tired, ate when hungry, and only checked the time to verify that any place I was planning to go to was open.

It’s a nice way to live. I’d like to do that full-time.

A few years ago, I found myself in the horrible position of having to schedule my life in 15 minute intervals. In any one workday, I would have 6 or 7 different places scattered about town that I needed to be at precise times. That situation brought on the wristwatch collection.


Every last one of them need a new battery.

I’m a firm believer in the right accessories for the clothing ensemble. Nothing corked me more than looking at a watch umpteen hundred times a day only to have that watch look stupid with the day’s outfit. I soon discovered $5 or $10 would buy me snazzy watches, silly watches, elegant watches and funky watches. Like the now defunct reading glass collection, the number of wristwatches approached infinity. Since I bought them all at the same time, the batteries all die at about the same time. Getting new batteries put in the watches once a year almost requires a second mortgage.

While I still schedule my life in 15 minute intervals, I spend most of my time in three places – all adequately equipped with a clock for easy viewing. In the past couple of years, the clock on the cell phone has replaced the wristwatch. All those wristwatches are languishing unappreciated in the dresser drawer. (I might have to do something about that.)

treasure chest of time

Time as treasure.

In the search for wristwatches, I discovered tiny little desk clocks. Uncharacteristically I exhibited some restraint and I only have two of those. They’re devilishly hard to set. There are some days I’d like more. Today is not one of those days.

My kitchen appliances are all, except for the refrigerator, equipped with a clock. The most important of these is the coffee pot clock. Without that clock, I can’t set the timer, and without the timer, I can’t have coffee ready when I wake in the morning. It would destroy what little peace I have in the morning if I had to begin the day trying to get the damn thing to brew me a cup of coffee. (When did coffee pots get so complicated?) Of course, they’re all digital.


Coffee Pot

Then there’s the DVD player, the alarm clocks and the car clock – also the dreaded digital type. The good thing is I now have a car that provides an easy way of changing the clock. Thirty years of digital timepieces and we’re just now figuring out how to make them easier.

There are two clocks, beside the cell phone, I rely on most. One is the spiffy radio-controlled-set-itself-to-the-Master-Clock-of-the-Universe thing that also tells me the temperature inside and out, the humidity level, and whether or not it’s going to rain. I love this stupid thing – I just wish it wasn’t so ugly.

hightech lowtech

hi-tech, low-tech, digital, analog

The other is my giant wall clock covered in faux leather with great big Roman numerals. This is the clock I glance it when I’m trying to figure out how late I’m going to be as I run around the house looking for my glasses.

Twice a year, I have to set all these clocks as I twirl about the solar system in either Daylight Savings Time or, um, hmmm, Normal Time.. Invariably, I forget one or two which leads to a month or two when I’m confused. I’m either late or early or discombobulated trying to figure out which one is right.

As I roam through the house, pushing multiple buttons (and cursing), I get lazier and lazier about setting each to the precise time. Since many of them are cheap and/or battery operated even set at the precise time, they’ll begin separating from the pack in a few weeks and every one of them will tell a different story as to what time it is. This is why the one that talks to the Master Clock of the Universe is such a favorite.

vanity vanity all is vanity

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity.

My alarm clock was cleverly designed to set itself twice a year when we adjusted to or from Daylight Savings Time. But then they changed the dates that happens and so a couple of weeks ago, I spent the better part of a day puzzling how it was that I kept losing an hour when I went upstairs. So I just had to fight with that thing to get it back to the right time and now I’m fighting with it again. Trust me. My life requires an alarm clock that not only tells the right time but rings really loud.

phone clock

Talkin' time.

And now, between setting clocks (and running out to buy batteries for clocks), I’m late and have to call work to try and explain why a multitude of clocks caused the situation. I leave out the part wherein I spent two hours I didn’t have writing this blog post. Sometimes you do things because you have to, sometimes because you want to – kind of like how I have a plethora of timepieces when I find time to be tyranny and punctuality as something only the truly gifted can accomplish without precise planning and great haste.  I wish they’d just leave time alone.  It’s problematic enough without changing it twice a year.

[And dammit, I just had to go in and change the time in my blog settings so that maybe the next post will show the corrected published-at time.  Jeez Louise.]

The guys out back are rocking out.

My office is near some subsidized apartments which cater to folks who have been homeless. They’re an interesting crop of folks (most of them would die before they would allow anyone to hurt me).

Every once in a while, like today, they have an impromptu party. Warm weather is frequently the catalyst. Today’s selections are Bob Seger and Mad Dog.



Used under a creative commons license. Pareerica's

I did a search on Flickr using the term imagine – I was delighted to find the very kind of image I set out to find on the very first screen of results. It’s a good day to be me.

I wanted an image that was a little edgy – one’s imagination can be a fearful place as well as a hopeful place. It’s most powerful when those two mix – hope rising out of fear.

One of our features as Homo sapiens sapiens is that we possess the ability to think beyond the here and now – to both hope and fear, for these are components of imagination. We can see possibilities. We can anticipate barriers.

Most of us lead comfortable little lives only barely tinged with the quiet desperation of Thoreau’s imagination. We go through rough spells. Some of us will throw up our hands and say, “I can’t do this.” But we can. We do.

Our lives sometimes feel like an endless stream of I-can’t-do-these-things-I’m-doing. Perhaps that’s the core of Thoreau – the desperation of self-imposed limits.

What-if is often seen as a brain-storming, motivational force. My what-ifs are worst case scenarios. I don’t think I’m a fearful person, but then again, I’ve had a right awful couple of years. There’s that old chestnut about 99% of what we fear never happens. If that’s an accurate statistic, my 1% has been powerful enough to cause lengthy analyses of dark what-if scenarios before I can move forward.

I discovered I was stronger than I thought I was. I’ve moved forward when I didn’t think I could even stand.

I-can’t-do-this is a lie.  

Still, I wasn’t impressed with myself.

I’ve whispered I-can’t-do-this and I’ve shouted I-CAN’T-DO-THIS. But I did it and I’ll do it. The doing can be worrisome, terrifying, humbling. It can also be strengthening. A large part of the downside is the fear of what will people think.  That fear is that we’ll be alone.

Another salient feature of Homo sapiens sapiens is that we’re pack animals. We need one another at the primal level. And yet we pride ourselves on our independence. We’re quirky creatures.

Pride is not an integral part of dignity. Dignity is imbued by the creator, pride is manmade. Pride can be squashed, but a loss of dignity is self-imposed. Independence is a chimera; and quirkiness, well, quirky is dignity in faded jeans and a clever t-shirt.

I’m not that strong. Every I-can’t-do-this that I’ve done has relied on help from someone. It’s always easier to accept help when you haven’t asked for it, but the I-can’t-do-this when the this is asking for help is a lie too. I can do this. I can ask for help. I’ve proved it.  And when I’ve been asked for help, I’ve always been happy to.  We’re pack animals, we’re cooperative – we’ve had to be to survive.

I-can’t-do-this is a lie.  

We-can-do-this is more accurate.