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Stopped Clock Shock

How I overcame S.A.D. writer's block and redeemed my Gift

My folk art clock stands still. Last week without provocation, it fell off the wall after I had reset it for Daylight Savings Time and apparently had not secured it. When I replaced the battery, the second hand began to sweep, but not the others. Then the hands stopped altogether. Some gear that moves the hands must be broken. Interestingly, the sweep hand does move if I hold the clock upside down, face toward the floor. Perhaps there's a metaphor here?

I hadn't realized how often I rely on this timekeeper: How long have I been writing? Is it time for my walk? A class? A meal? (Kitty, of course, paces for supper service at 4:30 pm precisely without benefit of clocks.)

Without that marker for the rhythm of my life, I feel a bit anxious. The clock, you see, provides a framework for my day, a measure of my activity, a sense that, like the three hands, my life is also moving along, unfurling. Without a functioning clock, I feel stilled. Stalled. Time passes, but I've no proof other than the rising and setting of the sun.

Frankly, this broken clock has spooked me. It reminds me that one day my life will stop -- and my stories along with it. It reminds me that I've ignored this blog-- and my loyal readers-- for far too long. It reminds me that like with most powerful medicines, we can have no refills. The simple stories we share that make us smile or take a second look or whisper "wow," -- these are the stuff of life so easily squandered.

Perhaps recently listening to New Hampshire author Joe Monninger speak about his new memoir, Goodbye to Clocks Ticking: How We Live While Dying, has sharpened my focus. Three days after Joe retired from teaching at Plymouth State University, he received a diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer, a wake-up alarm he has crafted into an honest reflection. I recommend it. The title, of course, refers to a line in "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder. Young Emily, speaking from her grave, realizes how joyful were the simple pleasures of her life, a life now stopped:

Goodbye to clocks ticking. And Mama's sunflowers. And food

and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths. And sleeping

and waking up. Oh earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you...

So far, my wonderful life has not stopped -- only my clock. A local watchmaker says he can put it right for $30. In the meantime, I've bought a pink table clock at the local Job Lot to organize and validate my day. Both clocks will run on batteries until they expire. I can replace batteries, but not lost time.

Still, I'm struck by the stop-go irony here. A stopped clock has prodded me to start writing again. It has set my blog in motion, has reconnected me to my readers, my friends. I have so many simple stories to share, but only if I unwrap this gift of time, the one with my name on it. Only if I use it.

Now. ###


  • Describe a time that you sensed life slipping by. How did you handle it?

  • Explain how you overcome writer's block.

Photo credits:

Clocks by Heather Zabriskie on Unsplash

Hourglass by Nathan Dumao on Unsplash


A Woman of a Certain Age Ponders Long-Haul Travel

Singapore shophouse by Danist Soh on Unsplash

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