One City

One City

Every Buddhist household needs one


by Davee Evans

When I saw this clock created by artist Bertrand Planes, I thought every Buddhist household needs one. I’d put mine right by the door, so I couldn’t miss it as I left for work each morning. It’s so easy to forget that our time is limited. Each day blends into the next, and in spite of milestones passing I for one live a life where it feels like this will go on forever. And yet my clock would already be disturbingly near the 6 o’clock position.


Mssr. Planes took a regular clock and changed the gearing to slow it down 61,320 fold – so one full rotation of the clock would approximate our expected lifespan, and he then changed the numbers on the clock to be years. I’d like to mass produce these. Too much of a downer to sell? Perhaps they would need to be DIY, because your livelihood really would impact how many years to put on the clock. Do you have risky hobbies? If you’re one of the many people today trying to quit smoking, as part of the Great American Smokeout, you could highlight the final years gained from quitting.

Cudos for any clever way to remember that time is short. Do you have any things around the house that remind you of this painful reality?

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Michael Slane

posted November 19, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Are you the David Evans I met on the OAT trip to Thailand a year or so back? I’m the UU guy–have been moving in a Buddhist direction myself as of late. Take care, MIke

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jon rubinstein

posted November 19, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Love this – thank you – I want one of these for my home and office!!

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posted November 19, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Hi Michael, I have not been to Thailand yet, though would love to go some day. So must not have been me. Speaking of that though, once at a conference I introduced myself to someone and we looked at each other’s name tags to find we both had the name David Evans. A really awkward pause followed. The vertigo of having my unique identity collapse before me pretty much killed the conversation and we both uncomfortably shuffled off. Too bad I hadn’t had much of a meditation practice then, would have produced much more laughter. :)
@jon: thanks!

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Patrick Groneman

posted November 20, 2009 at 10:59 am

How about one that reads “Now” at every number position? We could make a whole line! Haha.

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posted November 20, 2009 at 11:19 am

Awesome. But what is the second hand?

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posted November 20, 2009 at 11:23 am

I’m fond of memento mori myself. Just saw the Wm Blake show at the Morgan Library in NYC – highly recommended. Anyway, there is a nice engraving of a sarcophagus to accompany a “Grave” poem, and it reminded me of how all humans want to forget there is an end to this particular conjunction of causes and conditions and awareness that is us.
this clock is a fine reminder. of course I immediately thought – well, most of my family lives til 90+ so MY clock would be different. HA! o those damn thoughts keep arising, don’t they?

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Steve Parker

posted November 26, 2009 at 6:42 am

It might be a bit ghoulish, but how about an alarm clock version? On the other hand as Buddhists should we not be living our lives on the basis that we don’t know when our death will come (the old walking under a bus syndrome).

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Corinne Carpenter

posted November 29, 2009 at 11:48 am

It would be nice to have one of these so where can I buy one? Instead of the New Year’s Resoultion it could be the seven year resolution reminder.

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posted November 29, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Just live each moment as though it is the only one you have…because it is. 😀

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posted November 29, 2009 at 3:32 pm

You must be very young! Once you hit 60, and you have had to deal with 80 year old parents, you don’t need such a clock!
I suspect there wouldn’t be much of a market for such a thing, young people wouldn’t want one and old people don’t need one.
And, if you are really a Buddhist the realization is in the teachings.

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The Barking Unicorn

posted November 29, 2009 at 9:55 pm

What’s Buddhist about this life-span clock is that it starts over again, just like samsara. :-)

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posted November 30, 2009 at 12:33 am

Well – as I am turning 70 next month I suppose this clock would be like the monk’s cup –
I only have a short time left to enjoy this life
But look at how fortunate I am to have had 90% of the wonderful life I have had !!!

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nike af1

posted December 5, 2009 at 3:47 am

good post,go on your good job,guys.

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posted December 12, 2009 at 8:52 am

You have yourself. Every change that happens to your body or mind marks the ticking of time. Many of us might try to engage in a changeless day, in version to growing older, but when we look back at that day, we will notice that it was a day not lived – and the calendar will reveal that our lie to ourselves cost a day with nothing gained.

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