December 12, 2017 – Telling Time
I consider myself fortunate. Perhaps, I am the happiest person on the planet, and, the most fortunate. Rewards in life come in odd shaped packages. Though I strive for success in so many aspects of my life, it is the helping others experience success that brings me the most satisfaction.
I am honored to be the Nana Chris for two wonderful godchildren, Baer and Piper. Two days ago, I walked into the Spillane kitchen to encounter a situation of frustration. Baer needed to know how to tell time in multiple ways, using words, to pass a test being given the next day. The atmosphere was dark. Baer’s dad was at the end of his wits. I arrived at the perfect time to change the energy in the room. I embraced the challenge with open arms. At one point, thirty years ago, my task as a substitute teacher was to teach an entire class of first graders (who couldn’t even count by fives) how to tell time in order to pass the New Jersey State Exams within a week. Not everyone learns verbally. When children grow up in a world of digital clocks, even those who learn verbally are at a loss when it comes to telling time on a traditional clock with a long hand and a short handle traveling around in circles.
Out came the purple construction paper. Out came the scissors. Clip, Clip … cut the circle in half …. cut another circle into quarters. “What is your favorite pie, Baer? Ahh… cherry pie! Hmmmm. Do you have twenty nickels somewhere in the house?”
I received a call earlier this evening from Baer. He wanted to let me know he scored a 90 on his test! He now feels like a wizard when it comes to telling time. I asked him to draw a clock for me to share on this blog post. Just prior to his call, I had started this post with my father in mind. My father taught me to love worms, to draw in perspective, to recite the planets in order of their distance from the sun. He taught me to use tools, to garden, to tell stories, to mow the lawn in crazy patterns so that little people could run along the paths while the adult was taking care of the business of proper landscape maintenance.
My father suffered from dementia for the last fifteen years of his life. I shared those years with him on a weekly basis. When he could no longer find words to string together into poems of one sort or another, I taught him to draw contour-like drawings. The only object he was able to draw, late into his state of dementia, was a clock.
Spaceman Carter’s drawing of a clock
Why am I writing about telling time, Baer and my father? Because what drives me to draw everyday, to paint everyday, to try new tools and to experiment with new methods of expressing myself, is the satisfaction and joy that comes from sharing my knowledge and my experience with others so that they can taste that joy, the pleasure, the happiness of mastering a task, a tool, a concept and a skill that will move them forward toward their goals, whatever those goals might be.
Facilitating the experience of life in a joyous state is my goal in life. I do it best through art.