It's a somber poem, but I appreciate that it doesn't try to lift up grief. Grief is not up. That first line hit me, along with the feeling/vision of everything sort of slowing down and focusing in, like sound and light is drowned out so that this feeling of grief is crisp, acute, real. I thought about other feelings- joy, fear, sorrow, excitement, anticipation, contentment. I'm drowning them out with plans and several loudly ticking clocks.
I have been creating anxiety for myself out of long-standing life quandaries. I've been trying to plan, figure out, order and control everything before it comes. I have schedules, financial plans, scenarios and their several possible outcomes to be matched with my own master plan to prevent all things negative from happening.
I didn't use to do this as often. I lived a bit more in the moment and worried a bit less about the future or its consequences. I've reached that moment in life when I'm young enough to do something and old enough to realize there is something I should be doing. All of life's normal problems are staring me down at the same time demanding to be resolved, or else.
I must have the following things sorted by the end of this day: financial security now until death, kids' college tuition paid for, zero debts (student and car loans), stay out of credit card debt, medical expenses covered and planned for, freedom to travel, have time with my family, a system for keeping my house clean that works like a machine, a schedule for towels and sheets to be cleaned, a schedule to keep me sleeping enough, a schedule to make me exercise, a schedule that creates space for creativity, a schedule that creates space for my friendships (and allows me to make new ones), my kids' play dates, a system for my kids to learn everything a kid is supposed to learn, a plan for my kids to do chores and learn independence, a plan for my kids to have free time and space to be kids, intentional communication with my kids' teachers, communication with my family, communication with my husband, space for my husband and I to enjoy each other's company, set up a will, get a financial planner, buy a new mattress, save for the next car, save for the next computer, try to get ridiculous internet bill lowered, save for a trip, plan a trip, pay taxes, save for quarterly taxes, maybe get a full time job or a part time job, revamp resume...
Stop. All. The. Clocks.
Auden said this because he just couldn't move forward, nothing should move while he experienced this piercing grief that made all other things nothing. I realized that stopping the clocks might be my path to feeling joy, contentment, satisfaction, peace. Emotions of any sort that makes time stand still and pushes everything else to the side- not because it doesn't exist or need to be dealt with, but because IT is not life. It is a means to an end- the end is life, love, relationship. It is important for those things to be the focus, and the rest to be simply managed as well as possible.
Stop All the Clocks. Just Stop.
I closed out my "schedule" for this fall, because I know we'll break it anyway. I ex-ed out of my spreadsheet for chores because I know we'll do it differently anyway. I stopped crunching the same numbers to see if I could figure out where my hidden million is, because we'll never be rich but we'll make it work anyway. We'll still live our lives and clean the house and pay the bills, but I just need to stop trying to find The Way to make everything work perfectly together. It won't, I won't figure it out ever and I'm making myself insane trying.
Yes, stop all the clocks, turn off the telephone....
listen to music while alone
Get rid of plans that will break
live now, don't let the future take
Tonight I'm going to a concert. It's going to be wonderful and I will stop my clocks.