By Daniel Boscaljon
Image by Melissa D. Johnston
“The Clocks are Melting” is the seventh letter in a series of posts called Letters to You written by Daniel Boscaljon with images by Melissa D. Johnston (from one of her ongoing projects). Letters to You began in July with “everytime i write i feel myself disintegrate.”
I appreciate both the fact that you are concerned about me and the tact with which you let your concern be shown. While you never directly probed me about my current mental situation, your worries nonetheless were revealed lurking under every other “innocuous” question. How was dinner last night (i.e. are you eating?) Do you still dream of me? (i.e. are you sleeping?). It’s sweet, though. And I do appreciate it.
I suppose you may wonder that I am writing to you again, but the nature of this missive will reveal itself: I am concerned about time. Please do not worry, but you should know that I am having problems with it. I will look at a picture on my wall, one that I have seen many times: 10 minutes will pass. I will go to the kitchen for a glass of water, and find that the clock will have advanced 30 minutes and the water remains unconsumed, growing warm on a countertop. I sit down for a moment–and it IS a moment–but an hour will have gone by.
Rumor has it that time is relative, after Einstein. And…he was smart. I suppose that he is right. Nonetheless, it seems problematic that I keep on thinking that time is shorter than what it is: how can 30 seconds turn into a half hour? Why do small tasks–cutting vegetables–last for hours?
I am not so naive…which you know. I am avoiding the reality of my task. It is self given, but it doesn’t make the strain any more. I want to be able to focus on it, but it seems to momentous for me. Inertia creeps through my skin, slowing me down, slowing down how I feel about the day. I feel as though this time will stretch on forever, as though I have an infinite amount of it…more than enough to accomplish my preparations. Outside of me, however–in your world–I know that time marches on, impervious to my experience of it.
Time moves too fast for me, and too slow. Why can’t you be here with me now, when I need you most? I know your reasons. They’re good ones. I even approve of them. But they’re like time…while I can understand, there is little that I can do and all that happens is my minutes turn into hours in your world as I grow smaller and smaller. Will I live forever at this pace? And if so–at the end of time–would I still be held accountable for all that I claim I had too little time to do?
Daniel Boscaljon has Ph.D.s in Modern Religious Thought and 19th-century American Literature, both from the University of Iowa. His interest is in the fragility and liminality of human experiences. His first book, Vigilant Faith: Passionate Agnosticism in the Secular World was published by the University of Virginia Press this past August.