Perhaps it was 8:09 in the morning. Perhaps it was 8:09 in the evening. I have no way of knowing, but as I climbed into the backseat of the ’65 Corvair, all I could see was the clock, forever frozen at 8:09. It did not blink, it did not falter. I stared at it, and it stared back.
I was visiting an old friend. Though I am only 18 and she is well past her 40s, she is one of the most dependable friends I have, and her home has always felt like a sanctuary. Hidden on a hill behind the trees sits her house, and down a narrow gravel road, nestled safely in a valley, is the horse farm she owns and runs.
My mother and I were visiting, and while I wished desperately that I could focus on the visit, my mind was preoccupied. Depression does that, it seems. It drags us away from our present and sets us down in a pain-riddled past or an all-too-uncertain future. There I sat, looking down at old scars, willing myself not to sink low enough to make new ones, when the clock caught my eye.
As I gazed, I lost count of how many tries it took for the old car to turn over. It seemed to prefer the darkness of its garage, and I knew how it felt. Finally though, it started and began to reverse. I’d taken my seat in the back while my mother perched in the passenger’s seat.
There was that clock, seeming to mock me. While I sat, ashamed of my past and worrying about my future, the little car was frozen always at 8:09. Never fretting, never worrying. The moment was forever, and it seemed OK with that. It struck me as an odd thing at first, but then, in my mind, it slowly morphed into something beautiful.
How wonderful it must be to preserve the moment, to stay perfectly still? To hold onto each minute as much of humanity bustles on, worrying and remembering, worrying and remembering?
I learned something that day. The silly frozen clock taught me a lesson. Each minute is precious, each passing second worth something. Time is the most valuable currency, for it does heal things, and it does bring with it new, wonderful, beautiful, terrifying experiences. My past has happened, and there is no changing it. The future will come, no matter what. So why dwell on the former or worry about the latter when you can instead be fully present?
Of course, at some point, this little analogy breaks down. It will not forever be 8:09, and life is not a frozen clock in an old car, forever unmoving as the rest of time passes. It is changing, always moving—and what a tragedy it would be to miss it.