Thursday, June 25, 2009

Time Keeps on Slippin’… into the Future

One summer, which I suspect to have been about 1985, I spent several weeks at my aunt and uncle’s in Ohio. They live in suburban Dayton—though I’m not sure Dayton itself can actually be considered urban. My aunt fondly recalls being on the verge of packing me up in a box and shipping me home—media rate. This was mainly because I was an overachiever when it came to inciting my two younger cousins to perform acts of mischief. But in my defense, they never needed all that much encouragement.

This was the summer that I first began to picture myself in the role of an artist. My cousins and I were watching either Bob Ross or some other “You too can be an artist” personality on PBS one day. I agreed with the sentiments of the show. I knew that I could be at least as good of an artist as that person, who played one on TV. Within a couple weeks after returning home I was attempting my first paintings—still lifes in poster paint on typewriter paper. Only the most archival materials for me.

Outside of my early forays into painting, there was another interest of mine that developed that same summer. My aunt and uncle’s next door neighbor held a yard sale while I was staying there. The only item I remember from the yard sale was an old grandfather clock. It didn’t work and that was part of the intrigue. I wanted to fix it so that it would work again. Needless to say, it was out of my adolescent no-income price range. Even if I had been able to buy it there was no way to get it back to Michigan in my parents’ car.

When I am searching through antique shops and flea markets clocks and watches are always on my list of possible purchases. The greater the disrepair the better. And I really have a slight obsession with pocket watches, too.

I can’t fix these devices. Having the ability to fix them is no longer part of the attraction. I like inspecting the mechanics of the time pieces. The gears and springs are similar to the inner workings of the human body, but without the blood and mess. So I have found that clocks and watches, and their internal organs, have come to exist as a personal metaphor for the human body.

The brokenness of the clocks is a representation of some form of brokenness in our lives. It can represent physical brokenness, and ultimately death, but it is more apt to symbolize relational brokenness. Even the disrepair of our inner dialogues, our states of psychological and spiritual well-being, can be exhibited through this mechanical brokenness. And of course, the temporal is an automatic association. Though we exist in time, these broken clocks appear to relate to an existence that is timeless.

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