I met with a friend yesterday and we discussed the aging process. When I go in for my annual physical now, I have to draw a clock face, and then draw the hands to a time I am told. It’s felt really silly to me until I read the poem below. I never recognized the complexity in “reading” a clock. I think I remember learning, and I remember teaching my sons. I wonder what it is for children today that so much is digital. Maybe they can’t read a clock face. Maybe they “read” in other ways.
I remember the first time I watched my young niece jump a unicorn in a computer game. I could tell she understood the spatial aspects of the screen in a way I didn’t feel I ever could.
Yesterday my son, his wife, and I discussed screen time for babies and what it might do to do their brains. It is suggested that a baby not view a screen for the first two years, and some philosophies say much later than that. I enjoy Face Time with my grandson. Some say that isn’t screen time. Certainly there is a different response when he sees me in person. All senses are involved, not just sight and sound. I’m round, dimensional, complex, complete.
Because I’m spending the night in Menlo Park, I participated in my grandchild’s bath time. He kicked and splashed and the more we laughed and applauded, the more he laughed and splashed. The feedback was clear. I am loved and I am love. In my immersion in air and water, playing with both, and these funny big people who think I’m the most marvelous being in the world which, and I take the narrative back, he is and we are.
Allow yourself to be as appreciated as raucously and vigorously as a baby in the bath. Splash Joy!
by Victoria Chang
The Clock—died on June 24, 2009
and it was untimely. How many
times my father has failed the clock
test. Once I heard a scientist with
Alzheimer’s on the radio, trying to
figure out why he could no longer
draw a clock. It had to do with
the superposition of three types.
The hours represented by 1-12,
the minutes where a 1 no longer
represents 1 but 5, and a 2 now
represents 10, then the second hand
that measures 1 to 60. I sat at the
stoplight and thought of the clock, its
perfect circle and its superpositions,
all the layers of complication on a
plane of thought, yet the healthy
read the clock in one single instant
without a second thought. I think
about my father and his lack of first
thoughts, how every thought is a
second or third or fourth thought,
unable to locate the first most
important thought. I wonder about
the man on the radio and how far his
brain has degenerated since. Marvel
at how far our brains allow language
to wander without looking back but
knowing where the pier is. If you
unfold an origami swan, and flatten
the paper, is the paper sad because
it has seen the shape of the swan or
does it aspire towards flatness, a life
without creases? My father is the
paper. He remembers the swan but
can’t name it. He no longer knows
the paper swan represents an animal
swan. His brain is the water the
animal swan once swam in, holds
everything, but when thawed, all the
fish disappear. Most of the words we
say have something to do with fish.
And when they’re gone, they’re gone.“
The Clock” by Victoria Chang, from the forthcoming OBIT by Victoria Chang, copyright © 2020 Copper Canyon Press.