Friday, January 2, 2009

Time-Change; Change-Time

In all the years I taught, I never wore a watch. There were bells to end classes or punchlines in the material, there were timers to measure the meditations, there was my enthusiasm to get me there at the beginning. Time has been a handy structure for things like lesson plans, planting the garden and coordinating schedules, but wearing a watch seemed too much a statement of accepting an external structure as a mandate to my interior. I have watched a distinct resistance to that! So, in keeping with a philosophical guidepost of mine, I am exploring the resistance. Liberation for me often resides in the unpacking of my own resistance to things.

I have two watches on my right wrist this morning. The Swatch was a gift from my friend in Zurich. It is set to Chennai time. I grabbed the other watch from the pile of over a dozen watches my Mom left behind. (Each one of them required a new battery, time had run out….) It is set to Raleigh-time. There is a 10 and a half hour time change. I never heard of a half hour time difference until planning for the trip to India. While these watches ticked off seconds a half a day apart, the coffee maker ticked off another cup. I like that measure of time, although there was a distinct learning curve on using the travel “Quick CafĂ© II.” The first cup became a golden puddle on the table. The second cup was a bit weak. This one? Mmmmm, just right. All it took was time, time and patience.

There is another clock that marks the moments in my heart. It makes a particular sound, “Just now is enough, just now is enough, just now is enough…” but occasionally, it resounds with a burst of bells that heralds the end or the beginning of a thing. It witnesses the passages between worlds; it sings an anthem or cries a wake. And yesterday, hugging my sister good-bye on the airport curbside, I felt the race of my heart against hers and my tears gather and fall. The internal clock began its song. A big chapter ended, time rolled behind that moment and began wrapping itself into the arms of its story. A big chapter begun, time finally found the ribbon where it had patiently marked the page and turned its face to begin the new read. I felt deep gratitude for her. I felt sharp relief that this chapter of my Mother’s dying was over. I felt joy to be embarking once again on the path into the small wide world. Time was marked and clanging inside me.

I did not once look down at the watches on my wrist. I knew that everything was happening right on time.


  1. Good philosophy - that everything is happening on time.
    Funny - I never wear a watch either!

  2. Well, the watch I got from Mom slowed down and stopped. I take the other one off about 6 times a days and keep forgetting to look at it when I "need" to know the time. And... I keep waking up hours before the alarm would go off.

    Love you, Becky!