Recently, someone sent me a postcard with the image of a gorgeous, ornate, antique clock. I love clocks. The caption didn’t include its location. It simply said, “Old clock. No longer works.”
I bet that was written by a young person.
Our society places entirely too much value on functionality these days. Some things, like beautiful old clocks, are still worthy of existence even if they are no longer serving their original purpose. They can still be lovely to behold, they can still teach us about the past, they can remind us of more elegant times.
For example, I miss the cars that were manufactured long before we knew about aerodynamics, before all vehicles started to look generic. I love tail fins. I love running boards. I love hood ornaments. I’m glad these cars still exist, if only in museums. I’ll never forget the last tail fins I saw, as they crested a hill and relegated themselves to the past. Your average Toyota Camry just doesn’t evoke the same emotions in me.
This is true of human beings as well. We tend to warehouse and overlook our elderly. On some level, I know I’ll be devalued by this country if and when I have the opportunity to retire. I’ll no longer be contributing to the gross national product. I’ll have drastically reduced my consumption. I won’t be toting that barge and lifting that bale. I will have no understanding of current pop culture. (Well, that’s pretty much true already, but you get the idea.)
But I love talking to people with life experience. I enjoy hearing what certain periods in history were like from the point of view of someone who has actually been there. I love to hear stories. It’s fun to take a deep dive into the memories of other people. You never know where they will take you.
I’m not suggesting that you should become a hoarder and keep every paperclip you’ve ever owned. But try to see things (and people) for what they are in the here and now. Then, ask yourself if they still bring beauty into the world, in whatever form that beauty may take. Ask yourself if they still have something to teach.
I’ll take something that is unique over something that is functional any day.
Incidentally, the clock shown below is not the clock that sent me down this rabbit hole. Much to my chagrin I can’t find where I put that image. No, this one is the Prague Astronomical Clock, and according to Wikipedia, “The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still in operation.”
So again with the functionality! Even if this delightful clock ceases to function, I’d still think it was amazing.
I don’t plan to have a headstone, but if I did, I think “Old clock. No longer works.” would be a great engraving, if only to make people laugh and think.
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