Dec 5, 2021 • 9M

Time Happens Twice a Day

I'm wishing for it and living in the before and after and forgetting all about the one happening now.

 
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The other day I was pouring through YouTube videos, crawling down rabbit holes, refreshing new clips every ten or fifteen minutes. Nothing was connected. It was video game reviews, politics, then a tutorial on French pressing coffee. Music videos for the new country songs I’ve been vibing out to. And boy, have I. Country music—the hidden genre I always thought I hated but am winding up loving. It’s strange, but I’m here for it. Just shrugging my shoulders and crawling down rabbit holes all the time and letting the mud stain me up.

Along the way, I heard a quote. One of those blurbs that floats in past your ear drums and in a moment you know you won’t forget it, even if the context was utterly pointless. And this context was utterly pointless.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I’m a package fanatic. Box up a phrase in the right way and I’m sold and jotting the letters down in my journal and reminiscing on them for too long. Wallowing in them like a pig out on the farm. Even an idiot is right sometimes. Nope, that’s not packaged right enough. That’s a no-brainer, a given, a little life-trope that turns out true every once in a while. But a clock? There it is. And there it went, floating, dubbing out loud across the back of the front of my skull. Just right enough.

And I suppose a broken clock is right twice a day. Two minutes of every twenty-four hours it gets to chime and cry like the town drunk just how right it really is. I love that—even something as useless as a broken clock can be valued for a slice of the time-pie every light cycle. That feels familiar.

I’m a broken clock. That must be it. Obsessed with the passing of time and the remembering of it, the jotting of it, the recording of it all, like I’m falling down and down and trying to grab the straws, the rope, the handles, anything that can anchor the world for just a minute. Pause it all and let me breathe. But it doesn’t. It just ticks on, ever on and on, and leaves me behind and I feel it. But it drags me all the same. Kicking and screaming and reeling out, living in the past and the future but always accidently existing in the present. So I’m preoccupied by time. The idea of it, the passage of it, the forming of new times and the graveyard of old ones. Troubled and haunted, walking through it all the same.

It’s seamless and perfect. Everything the same, like a row of blank dominoes lined up one after another, tipping and tipping with exact cadence. And they do, they always do and there’s not a damn thing you could ever do to pause ‘em, stop ‘em, switch ‘em all up. But even a broken clock can be in the right frame of mind twice every day. And I feel like a broken clock. Most of the moments I burrow in are strange and uncomfortable and seem to be ten minutes off, two hours behind or ahead. And twice a day I catch a weird little glimpse at what real life is like. I smile at it, wink at it, and I’m all right. But just for sixty seconds, and another sixty later on.

Two hits of exactitude doesn’t always feel like enough. Sometimes when I’m smearing all over the place and neurotic and wrung, I wish I could be right all the time. Wish I could feel in place, in time. But then I’m reminded that I’m three minutes off, and the right digits might sweep by soon, but they’ll disintegrate again and I’ll sit and tap my knees in the sunshine and imagine rain. The leaves will blow down and scatter across the pavement like dust and dog hair in the corner of the living room, and the world will die and remind you it’s dying.

I’ll weep for it, but those tears won’t be for the crunched and husked-out leaves or rotting bark, nor the trash and litter that blows around. They’ll be for me and my misplaced stake in time. Out of time, on top of it, below it, confused by it, lost in it and away from it. And I sure am. But it ticks on and I keep looking at my shoes and tapping my heels like Dorothy and thinking I’ll get wisped away home and be planted back in the present moment. It ticks on and the sun breaks east every morning and I miss it more often than not. And the sun drowns out west every night and I miss it more often than not. In these days, the days I’m lacerated out of and only feeling right twice a day. A hundred and twenty seconds of feeling like I’m exactly where I need to be.

Maybe that’s how it’s all designed. To be awkward and contorted while I tie my legs in knots under the table and fold my arms up tight and think about tomorrow and tonight and this morning. Still sitting and trying to ignore the hard chair under my butt, and thinking about my bed and pillow and couch and everything but the one I’m sitting on. Still sitting. Marinating in my displacement.

They say that God is always with you, always hovering around your body like a ghost and they use the word “always”. Always is no simple stretch—it’s before, it’s a century ago, ten years in the future, infinite, no start no end in sight. It’s time, the ticking clock. Always. Maybe God is time, the present time, present moments that never leave, always with you. They say that God is always with you and I think he’s the present moment. And that’s the one we’re in. God or spirit, or whatever mystical force, elephant-nosed goober you believe in. Maybe you just believe in time, and maybe that’s enough. And I’m out of time—not run out, but outside of it. And boy, am I ever. The leaves fall and my foot presses the gas pedal and I’m not there for any of it, even though my eyes and feet are.

It’s a lot easier to chime on about what you should do, than it is to actually do it. I can scream all about carpe diem and write it, scrawling the ink and injecting it like a drug into my veins. High and up and rosy to the idea, and I know I am. I’ve got a fortune cookie paper taped to the space above the keys on my laptop and it says, “Your power is in your ability to decide.” Seize the day, you bumbling, broken baboon. But I’m outside time like Billy Pilgrim and I feel that and I never even saw bombs drop or hid away in the cellar. Life’s already enough to feel nixed out the river of time. And nixed I am, traumatic and dazzled by the stars.

There’s one-thousand four-hundred and forty minutes in a day. And I’m only feeling rested and sturdy for two of them. Right and correct and straight up and down, like the human I should be. Two minutes of fine-time, when all the stalks add up and the melt around my skull doesn’t seem so removed. When the soup doesn’t leak, when the thoughts run glassy like the bend at the top of a waterfall. When it’s all pure like a fresh snow on the mountain side and the deer trot across and smile and wink and it’s lovely. When sun is bright and the sky is cloudless and cyan and a jet soars overhead and people move from one place to another and it’s all churning like earthen butter. Two minutes are right, two minutes I feel the wonder of the planet reach out and worm it’s tendrils around the folds of my mind and I shudder from the intimacy.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

And that’s me. I suppose it’s better to be a broken clock. Maybe I don’t work, but at least I can be right twice a day. Even if it’s only for sixty seconds and they pass me by and I wave goodbye, and wait for the next one to come. I suppose it’s better to have a bracket of time to wish for, than to be the dirt on the earth and have no idea about it. Tread on, kicked up, stirred around and dug into. At least I can do the digging and maybe that’s just it. Dig it all up like life and look for a hundred and twenty seconds to root into. Dig it up like videos and rabbit holes and be there for it because it’s sure happening and not stopping any time soon.


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