The Time

At a family picnic, I was talking to my aunt and I told her that I was thinking about getting a big clock face tattooed in the middle of my back.  I told her that there was a special ink that they could use for the hands so that they could be set for the right time and then they would move and tick along like a normal clock.  The hands could only be set once, and the setting would be as permanent as the tattoo itself, but once set right, the clock would always keep accurate time.  It would never lose a second here or there over the years.  And I would always know what time it was, because I would be able to feel it on my back.  If I was working with someone and they said, “Man, it sure feels like it should be noon already,” I could just stand up straight, arch my back to get a sense of the position of the hands, and say, “Nope.  It feels exactly like it’s quarter to ten.”

My aunt responded to this with a wry smile and a roll of her eyes.  She pointed out that there were some cases where you might not always want to know the time.  I had to admit that that was true.  Sometimes, on a long shift, the worst thing you could do was to keep looking at the clock.  The minutes would just crawl by.  Other times you just wanted to stay in a moment, not caring when and if it would ever end.  I thought about having that clock on my back, feeling every minute portioned out equally, every moment of my life punctuated with that slow inky tick.  I rubbed the back of my neck, feeling like there was an itch I couldn’t reach.

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8 thoughts on “The Time

  1. Little two for one deal. I hesitate to post two posts at once, because I feel like I'm burying one of posts behind the other. But I felt strongly about both of these ideas, and I wanted to write them both. I hope the other post doesn't go entirely unnoticed.

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  2. I like this a lot, a sort of thought experiment, confirming our varying attitudes towards the passage of time. Times flies when you're having fun and drags when it's the other way. K & I have this game when we're out walking, or I can play it on my own too, of guessing how many steps I've walked and what time it is. Then I check my pedometer which tells both and see how accurate the guesses were. Today she bought a pedometer for herself. And we were discussing tattoos too, & especially my embarrassment at saying that a gentleman (archetypal English one!) does not wear tattoos, to a recently widowed Canadian lady who was staying with us, who was tattooed, and as K told me today, so was her late husband, whom she still mourned daily as he died only 6 months ago.

    So I specially appreciate your post!

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  3. I've done that in a number of situations, where you hold off looking at the minutes or the miles or the steps that have gone by, almost saving it like a reward.

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  4. I've often shared your hesitation about publishing two posts in quick succession, but now it's given me the idea that cluster-posting may be a good thing. There's one I've published on my members-only blog called “Hidden in Plain View” which sits there while I ponder if it’s good enough, but now I'm thinking of putting it up on Wayfarer's together with possibly two others when they're all ready.

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  5. Does it account for daylight savings, though?

    I can relate to this a lot. I'm so paranoid about time. What time is it now? How much time have I spent on this? How much time do I have left? And yet one of my absolute favorite moments in life is when I'm off camping, and have no electronic devices, and have absolutely no idea what time it is outside of daylight/nighttime.

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  6. I thought about daylight savings when I wrote this, actually. But hey, I never liked daylight savings anyway. Arizona is one of the few states that doesn't have it, so I'll be good when I move there. But then, of course, I can't reset the tattoo for the new time zone. So there's that. *sigh* You can't win!

    Camping is good, though. Yeah.

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