It has been many years since I was invited to the archives at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. I cannot recall why but I do recall I had the same overwhelming sense of awe at what was in the collection.
When asked this time, it was to visit the collection to support a new purpose, a new kind of mission that acknowledged our present tools and their ability to create a leap back for others in the state of Michigan’s second largest public museum collections.
As I wandered about on my task to find just one object, the perfect object to lend my voice or share my connection, I felt like a modern-day ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right for ArtifactGR.org
As I wandered past the too numerous to personally count tagged artifacts, I noticed a simple stone drinking fountain dismantled and laying in pieces on the floor. I was reminded about the purity of water and how it quenches our thirst.
I moved past an old switchboard and imagined how communication has changed and wondered in a comical way what would happen to the job of the person who served in this short lived roll of physically plugging us into the places we wanted to be. They could go the tech route or just become a telephone operator but the switchboard when removed from us, never needed to return. We had moved on.
And then I saw a bank of clock faces across the room. Too odd and short to be floor clocks but they intrigued me.
As I inched closer, I noticed they were actually beautiful time clocks with the Simplex model really catching my eye for its Mad Men era of style and beauty.
As I looked at it, I marveled at the sunrise pattern rendered in an elegant modernist fashion. Or was it sunset. It served many purposes.
I loved the darkening marks around the 8 and 4-hour marks indicating what I think were the hours of time when work was completed.
When I saw these marks, I realized how much this time had passed as I thought about how work has changed for me but for so many around me.
For many years, in my early years, my parents would scratch their heads trying to understand what a creative person actually does in this world. As time would go on the questions began to cease and now when introducing me to others on my journeys home, mom simply says, “This is my eldest son. He’s from Grand Rapids and he, well, at least what ever he is doing must be working because he has not had to move home like the others.”
I smile. And do so because as I venture on this life free from the boundaries of time and the need to be in one space to conduct work, I am liberated and sad at the same time.
I am liberated in that I can get what I need to get done in many places around the world. I have been free of a time clock for some time but I miss them too.
I miss a period of time when we were not so available. I miss the concept of punching out as my father did as an engineer at GM to return to his life. I miss the lines when I think we were a bit happier than we are today.
So as I look back at the time clock on the wall strapped to a fence, locked up, but not really as time keeps demanding our time.
I feel good for all we have done as humans to get us to here…to get me this far in knowing time is much more fluid in how it flows.
But what I really want is a way to disconnect this Simplex life and connect back with the other simple life. The one I was born into as a child where time clocks came much later after spending time playing in a sandbox, on a swing, climbing a tree.
They say we are once an adult and twice a child. I think it’s not about dependency as children or our behavior needing supervision, but I think it is in knowing how to unplug and just enjoy the moment free from the demands of work.
The Simplex time clock reminded me to mind my time.