For the past two weeks, the grandfather clock has been chiming exactly in time with the clocks on the DVR, the microwave and the oven. I’m actually getting a thrill out of looking up at the digital displays to see them flashing double zeroes as the chimes herald the new hour.
There’s poetry here, along with a reminder about the textures and cycles of life.
Analog clocks, whose arms advance steadily and cannot retrace their past, mirror our lives. The orbit of the hours reflects both the cycles of nature and the paths that bring each of us back home. The sweep of the second hand echoes the relentless beating of our hearts.
Digital time is coldly efficient and speaks only of the now, arrogantly announcing its data without any offer of context. Set the clock a minute fast or a minute behind and it will lie to you, boldly and confidently, forever.
Maybe I spent too much time listening to the ballad of John Henry, but I find myself rooting for the flexible and the fallible over the precise and lifeless. And so I am greatly cheered to see the clock I assembled from a kit 30 years ago matching the soulless diodes behind the glass.
One of these days, of course, the grandfather clock will falter, or surge, and the period of synchronicity will end. Like watching the earth’s shadow pass across the moon in an eclipse, we know the moment of exception will give way to the unremarkable routine.
In the meantime, it’s a pleasure to recognize and appreciate when things are simply going the way they should. If the clock was broken, or five minutes behind, I’d notice. How much more enjoyable it is to pay attention when everything is running smoothly, as well.