“‘Time passes by!’ we say. Time does not exist; only we move.” Talmud
While reading Lasting Echoes by Joseph Bruchac , I came across the very choicest word for clocks I have ever seen, papeezokwazik. Not only is it a beautiful word, but it means "that thing which makes much noise and does nothing useful" in the Abenaki language.
Bruchac goes on to quote an Arapahoe gent named Carl Sweezy, "White people...thought we were all lazy. That was because we took a different attitude toward time than theirs. We enjoyed time, they measured it."
Of course, due to the way we live and work, I use clocks to get to work, meetings, appointments, movies, "on time". I loathe being late and find myself growing anxious if the clock is ordering me to be someplace and I can't respond for whatever reason. This is particularly true when I am trying to herd our girls off somewhere such as church and I feel that their tardiness will reflect badly upon us as houseparents, tsk tsk. But I do see being late when others are waiting as disrespectful, and so, I use clocks, and I do find them necessary and useful. But oh, how we do obssess.
I lived in Samoa for a couple of years and I was regularly frustrated to nearly frenzy level by the islander's indifference to time. " Ye gods and little fishes!" I would scream in my head as I stood in line at the bank or post office or wherever in Tafuna or Pago Pago, "don't these people have ANY bloody sense of time!??" And they certainly did, but it was quite different from our need for speed and precision. They would bring mats and food and relax in the shade of the post office waiting for mail to come in. They napped and chatted and never seemed to be concerned about time. I appreciated that but I had so succumbed to our western culture, that I had difficulty experiencing it then.
Years earlier, when I was in college, I carried a pocket watch so I wouldn't have the shackle of time on my wrist. As soon as school was out for any break, I left the watch in a drawer in my apartment. I symbolically cast off enslavement to time.
After a lot of years, I no longer wear a watch. There are clocks everywhere and I have few appointments to keep. I watch the clocks so I can get the kids I work with to school and other places on time, but I am detaching from time as the years go by. I love having no place to be at any given time, and the experience of that can almost be tasted. It is sweet and warm. I have no desire to measure time, I want to enjoy it.
"Many of us think that happiness is not possible in the present moment. Most of us believe that there are a few more conditions that need to be met before we can be happy. This is why we are sucked into the future and are not capable of being present in the here and now. This is why we step over many of the wonders of life."
–Thich Nhat Hanh, from Be Where You Are