Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. I still remember the wooden analog clock that hung in our family home. Its hands were constantly moving, swiping through time every second of the day. As a child, I’d stare in awe, of the ways it displayed time and became time. Every day, when my mother returned from work, standing in front of that clock felt like my moment to show off my genius of recognizing what was genius. What was obviously overlooked and under appreciated for all the ways it helped us throughout the day. But, contrary to what my kindergarten teachers believed, I didn’t leave the womb with this understanding. My mama worked diligently to teach me the ins and outs of that clock, of the time I had, of the opportunity I’d been given in this life.
Understanding the basics allowed me to appreciate the complicated. Allowed me to recognize when the clock began to slow, when its arms would twitch with fatigue. When its luscious brown, wooden skin seemed dusty and worn. It taught me that knowing to read a clock wasn’t merely a gift or privilege, but a necessity. It taught me that reading a clock was about memorizing its heartbeat — tick tock tick tock tick tock — as much as it was about its flatlined silence ———- in need of new batteries.
Only now that I’m older can I see the lesson hidden inside the nooks and crannies of my mama’s teachings: reading a clock is as basic and as important as reading ourselves. Respecting the gift of time is equivalent to respecting the gift of ourselves. When was the last time you listened to the sound of your own heartbeat? Can you recognize it in a crowded room? Would you notice if it skipped a beat? If your hands and arms twitched with fatigue? Would you recognize the signs of your battery running low? Or would it only become clear when your body finally stopped, when your mind finally stopped, when you finally stopped?
I didn’t. I couldn’t. And for a long time, my arms only moved to help other people reach their goals and follow their dreams and exploit the riches that time freely offers. I was so constant for everyone else that I became the decorative fixture in their lives. Quiet, unseen, almost nonexistent, except for the precious time I seeded. Tended. Kept alive. I kept time for them, I kept energy for them, they didn’t know this but I kept them. And it was only when my arms finally gave out and I was left depleted, I realized how many only noticed me when I no longer beat in service to them. How often I was overlooked and underappreciated. How often they did not take time to learn how to read me. How often they only grunted with frustration when my fatigue inconvenienced them. How often they exclaimed “how could we forget the batteries again? The love again? The food again? The care again? How could we forget that damn clock again?”
But now, with all that I have in me, I stand tall and I do so defiantly. Because in the time I spent in that one spot, not moving, I learned how much I mean to me with a ferocity that will live long past this moment we are standing in. And now that I truly know my worth, my value and all I bring, I demand to be read with nothing less than fluency.
Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. I still remember the wooden analog clock that hung in our family home. Its hands were constantly moving, swiping through time every second of the day. I’d stare in awe, of the ways it displayed time and became time. Now, I realize that, all along, the true clock, the real face I was enamored with was that of my own.