My crooked wall clock tells time accurately. For a time that bothered me immensely.
Not the accuracy.
The clock hangs in my den. I can see it from where I commonly sit in the living room. My wife and I—after much deliberation—hung the clock where now resides. That, almost exactly 25 years ago. Only a few weeks after hanging the clock, I complained to my wife: “What the hell is wrong with that clock?”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
I pointed. “It’s crooked.” I walked over lifted the clock to reveal the small nail angled into the wall. I studied the perfectly centered factory mounting notch. Nothing awry there. I carefully hung the clock again and adjusted the outside frame square with the house. I stepped back, nodded approval.
A few days later the wall clock was hanging crooked again.
I straightened the clock. I think our constant in and out at the door to the garage—which is nearby—vibrates the clock askew.
For years this went on. Maybe every few months, sometimes after only a few weeks, I would find the clock crooked and tweak it plumb again. In that time, housecats came and went. My daughter crashed my little red truck, went off to college. She later lived in London, New York City, and San Francisco. She married and lost a husband to cancer only six months after they wed. I constructed a cabin deep in the woods. I changed my career, twice. My wife and I saved money. Prepared for a comfortable retirement. We did everything correctly. Then, on a blustery spring day almost six years ago, a doctor told my wife she had “weeks to months” left to live.
My wife did not make months. Only weeks.
That damned clock didn’t drop so much as a fucking minute, ever.
Somewhere in all of that, I let the clock remain crooked. It is crooked as I write this. I might plumb it up when I set the clocks back this weekend.
I didn’t give up on the clock. I gave up on trying to manage and control everything around me. My sensibilities shifted. As the phrase goes: I let go. Maybe, instead of setting the clock, that girl and I can go do something nonproductive.
In youth, we try to divert creeks and make then conform to our vision of what we want the creek to be. In our advancing years, we follow the river where it goes because we know all the creeks have gathered to go the same way.