Yesterday morning I leaned back in the desk chair to reflexively stretch in place. The glowing numeric display of the wall clock caught my eye. The Radio Shack “Micronta” clock has kept time while hanging on the same wall since 1987. I’ve always kept it set to UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) from day one. The original reason for buying it was to keep track of world time so I could listen to shortwave broadcasts of programs at their scheduled times.
My interest in the shortwave listening hobby has diminished to the level of being a mild occasional curiosity. My curiosity began to wane as the shortwave band became more cluttered with religious proselytizers. The fall of the Soviet Union also meant the demise of Radio Moscow World Service–a source of outrageous sometimes amusing, blatant propaganda. (It’s a good idea to keep tabs on one’s adversaries.) Interest faded even more quickly after my main shortwave radio suffered a quick death from a nearby sky to ground lightning strike.
Although the shortwave hobby is pretty much defunct, I keep the clock adjusted to UTC because knowing world time gives me a global focus whenever I glance at the clock. It’s also nice to know what time of day it is in London, UK where some of my longtime friends live–UTC is basically the same as Greenwich Mean Time in England.
Sometimes the UTC clock causes me to think of other friends I’ve met who live in other countries and elsewhere in North America. I look at the clock, then mentally calculate the time it is in the Time Zones used where they live. Knowing what time of day my friends are experiencing helps keep the memories of them fresh.
“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”–George Burns
We want to stay alive as long as possible, so longevity is a popular topic. We consult doctors, sometimes follow fitness routines, try to eat healthy diets, and consult self-help gurus. Biologists and medical researchers continue to search for ways we can extend healthy life-spans. Of course, there are limits to this. We will someday meet our demise.
“Fame comes and goes. Longevity is the thing to aim for.”–Tony Bennett
We seem to have an instinct to leave some sort of legacy in our wake. For many, successfully raising a child or children will be that legacy. For others, it might be accomplishments at work or in public service. Regardless as to whether or not one believes in some sort of afterlife, we hope that some aspect of us will live on long after we have passed away.
It’s interesting that longevity is esteemed by people who observe life from the side-lines. But for those who are fully involved in life, a year’s work or a day’s accomplishment might be the thing that causes their names to live on in history books. This is not always intentional.
I’ve enjoyed naturally good health most of my life. In fact, I’ve mostly taken it for granted. But now that I’m older, cracks in that healthy foundation are showing up as reminders of my mortality. Although I don’t obsess over how long I might live, I do think about longevity more often. Impermanence is less of an abstract concept and more of a concrete reality. It is the acceptance of our impermanent nature that can enhance the present moments of our lives.
I just glanced at the “Micronta” clock again. By all rights, it should have died a long time ago. But the vintage LED display is just as flawless and bright as it was when it was brand new 32-years ago. I wonder how much time remains in the life of that clock.