Time: The seeming progression of moments across experience. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of time, the measurement of time, the notion of the here and now, the idea of infinity. Mostly I prefer to live in the present moment. I feel tuned in, engaged, alive. I gave up wearing a wristwatch decades ago because I found myself looking at it way too often. There’s a certain freedom in not caring what time it is – unless you need to be somewhere at a certain time, or to complete a certain task on a schedule. And besides, I still have my iPhone if I really need to know the hour, minute, and second as arbitrarily determined by mechanical and/or digital means. This brings me to the concept of “marking time,” something we humans have been doing since the beginning of…well, time.
So, I donned my “Be Groovy or Leave, Man” Soul Flower tee and headed on over to the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, PA in the USA. I felt like a bit of a Time Lord as I approached the door leading to the winding, seemingly infinite corridor expanding to display after display of thousands of timepieces created and used by the animal known (to himself) as human.
From sundials to Chinese water clocks, to the infamous cuckoo in its myriad variations, to dozens of grandfathers ornately carved, to pocket and wrist watches galore (including the quartz crystal watch worn by James Bond), and on to the atomic clock, which is accurate to one second in 300 million years – you may not be traveling through time, but you can be forgiven for thinking so.
The ticking (yes, some of the clocks are kept wound and working) reminded me of an old Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “The Changing Heart” (Circa 1961) in which a clock-maker replaces his dying granddaughter’s heart with a ticking clockwork in an ill-fated attempt to save her. Weird and disturbing on many levels, right? But it was Hitchcock, after all.
After losing all track of time (how ironic is that?), I arrived at the end of my journey through the time-marking displays, where I noticed a parking meter next to a door marked Exit. The meter read “Time Expired.” That and the young woman’s ticking heart from the TV show drove home quite clearly that we all have a clock of sorts hidden away within the ribcage, quietly marking time – and it, too, will expire. So stay engaged and tuned-in to the present moment. Life is always about what is happening right now. In the almost immortal words of the greatest Time Lord of them all (known as The Doctor), “Letting it get to you. You know what that’s called? Being alive. Best thing there is. Being alive right now is all that counts.”
Well, groovy or not, it was time for me to leave. I exited the building to a bright sun directly overhead. It must be noon, I thought to myself. Lunch time.
Photos by Betsy Alexander.
Burnell wore the Be Groovy Men’s Recycled T-Shirt