HeartNote, March 11, 2019: The Presence of Time

Stan owns an automobile repair shop just outside of town. He's been in that spot since 1966.

At 81 years old, he still works on each car that enters the garage.

Everything in this place is organized and clean. Everything is in precise working order. Well, almost everything.

On the back wall of the garage is a clock. On the face of the clock is an ad for a long out of production beer company.

But by looking at the clock, you’ll see something missing: the clock doesn’t have any hands.

“That clock,” Stan said, “was put there there in 1967” he said, “and I took the hands off of that clock about a year after that.”

Stan and I sat down on a bench in the back of the garage. “The first year, being the only mechanic in town, got busy kind of fast. So, I put an ad in the newspaper for a mechanic.”

"The next day, a man and his teenage son came in. The older man shook my hand and said, “This is my son, Roy. He’s the best mechanic I know. He’s worked on all my equipment since he was a boy: tractors, trucks, combines and backhoes. He’s torn down and replaced every bit of machinery on that place. Heck, this morning, he even fixed my toaster!” The older man laughed, and then he looked at the ground, got really quiet and said, “Now, I need to tell you. Roy, here, well, he can’t see too good. But that doesn’t effect how good of a mechanic he is. He’ll take anything you have and put it back, better than it was before.”

Well, I stuck my hand out to shake hands with Roy and he didn’t see it. His father instructed him to put his hand out for me to shake it, and he did just that. I took Roy’s hand and saw that his eyes didn’t focus. He couldn’t see me.

Roy, in fact, was blind.”

“We agreed that Roy would start the next day. Well, when I got to the garage, Roy was already there. He was standing in front of the door, waiting for me. I asked him how long he’d been there, and he said he didn’t know. “A while, I think,” was all he was able to say.”

“Roy didn’t know the difference between night or day, five o’ clock or noon. So one day, while he stopped to have lunch, I asked him about if it mattered to him, the not knowing the time thing. He said, “No sir, it doesn’t matter. I only know time in respect to where I am, what I’m doing, and what I’m paying attention to. I cannot see light, but I can feel the energy of your presence. I can hear your voices, I can feel the sun and the cold.”

“But for me, time tells me what matters. I give my attention to that. And I draw my focus on the task, the sounds, the smells and the air.” Stan stopped himself. I could see he was getting a little choked up. Stan took a breath and continued, “Then Roy said, “Time surrounds us and it passes. But it’s only measure, to me, is where I place my attention, and that is all that matters."

“It was right then,” said Stan, “that I looked at that clock and took off the hands. I did that for Roy. And for me, too, I guess.”

Stan got up, straightened his back and said, “Time. There to be given to what matters. It’s not something to be measured."

“And,” he smiled, “I’ve kept the time by listening, focusing and caring about what matters. And, if I measure the time in my life by those things instead of the hours and minutes, well,” he said, turning toward me, “then I think I’ve used my time well. And my life has been one of time very well spent.”



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