Usually I discount passing crazes, but it just so happens that an article about a new one arrived in my inbox today at a particularly vulnerable moment. I’d just finished a conversation with Mike about the deplorable state of my office. I was contemplating how to fix it when the link came in.
Hmm, I thought, as I stared at it. “Bliss Stations?” Sounds moronic. Still, anything’s better than having to actually do something about this room right now…
So I clicked on the link. The article talked about creating an artist’s sanctuary in your home–a place where you feel joy, peace, and inspiration. A place filled with things you love. A place to dream without encumbrance.
The piece annoyed me–self-help stuff always does–but it also fueled my desire to get this office cleaned out. If I’m supposed to feel joy when I sit down in here I’ve got a long way to go. Right now I’m verging on a mid-level panic.
My office, it seems, is on a bliss vacation. The desk is chaotic, the walls peppered with carelessly curated artworks. A wan polyester curtain covers one sliding glass “wall,” unfiled receipts litter the floor, an old jack-in-the-box lurks in the corner. Instead of thoughtfully chosen, meaningful things on the shelves–history books, photographs, bits of memorabilia–there is macaroni art, a bunch of old video cassettes, and a Freddy Krueger Mr. Potato Head. (Don’t ask. It’s a “collector’s edition.”)
Front and center, hanging above my paper-swamped desk, is the big wooden clock that my dad gave me years ago when I got my first place. I had nothing in the way of furniture at the time; he had it left over from a film shoot and donated it to me. It was the first–and for a while only–thing I hung in my new, tiny studio in Venice. It looked appropriate, even nice there; and, ever since, I’ve moved it from apartment to apartment, house to house, with a real sentimental attachment.
But something has changed since my dad passed away last year. I loved him, of course, but this clock–that keeps no time, mind you–isn’t him. It’s just a round piece of wood with some markings on it, and it’s really not speaking to me anymore. Or maybe it is, and I just can’t make the translation now that Dad’s gone. Without his spirit animating it, it’s just a thing, a bit of ephemera robbed of meaning. Or perhaps its meaning has simply morphed from the personal to the banal. Where before it reminded me of Dad’s support at a difficult time, it now speaks to me only in cliches:
“The end is near,” it intones. “Time is not your friend.”
I know, I respond silently. Your presence is an excellent reminder.
Is a clock in and of itself a thing of beauty? Perhaps, but this one has lived out its time on my wall. If this is going to be a bliss station I’ll have to begin by eliminating anything that doesn’t, well, bring me bliss. This means you, Killer Potato Man, and you, evil jumping clown. And everything that found its way here by chance.
So Dad, I love you. I miss you. But time’s up. The clock goes in the attic.