There is a clock at work that stopped.
I stare at it daily, increasingly frustrated that it refuses to keep time with all the other clocks.
The time displayed on my computer is accurate. My wrist watch is set five minutes fast, and has been for the last year, consistently, by choice. The clocks in everyone else's offices are fine. But the clock in my office ... well, it has stopped.
It sits there motionless, nothing more than a distasteful reminder that a loss of purpose generates nothing but disdain.
I looked into it about a year ago. Tried to get it fixed. I was told there was no maintenance contract for that particular clock.
So I tried to get it replaced. I was told I could not get it replaced; it was part of a clock "network", linked to a series of clocks, all intricately connected to a central GPS receiver hidden somewhere deep in the bowels of the telecommunications room. To replace that clock could potentially disrupt the entire system.
I was relentless. There had to be a solution. I begged and pleaded until I finally got a technical team to come have a look at the silent tickless instrument hanging useless on my office wall.
Nothing was wrong with that clock they said.
Something was obviously wrong. The clock had stopped. I asked them to take that clock apart. They did. They checked its internal workings.
All fine. They said that the clock on its own appeared fully functional.
I persisted. The clock was not broken. But the clock had stopped. There had to be an answer out there somewhere.
Someone sent in a telecoms team to check out the central GPS receiver.
No problem with the receiver, they said.
But that team seemed to get my frustration. They sat down with me, explained that it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint the problem with these high-tech systems. Sometimes there is simply a problem with the connection. That connection is high maintenance, and without proper maintenance, it just fails. This appeared to be the case. And it appeared we were lacking the in-house expertise to resolve the obvious communications breakdown.
So I stared at that clock - the clock that stopped - for over a year. Powerless. Growing increasingly frustrated. Increasingly aware that not only did that clock no longer serve a purpose, but that it was proving detrimental.
Then one day, I had an epiphany. I went back to basics. Did I really need an expert to tell me what I already knew? That it wasn't the clock's fault? That it wasn't the system's fault? That it was simply that the connection had irretrievably, irreparably broken down?
Simple as that. The connection was gone. And it was beyond my power to revive that connection.
And it hit me ... I'd been stuck thinking that removing that clock would disrupt the entire system. But if the connection was broken ... well there wasn't much chance removing it would create more turmoil than a minute hole in plaster, barely visible, easily repaired.
And I knew. Knew that the only two choices lay in ignoring the clock or removing the clock.
I am that clock. I am that clock that is perfectly functional but that no longer ticks. Because the connection is gone.
I have sat virtually silent and motionless for over a year. My reason for occupying my professional space is gone.
Perhaps regular maintenance would have prevented the communications breakdown. Perhaps an expert could revive the connection. Perhaps another clock could revive that connection. Perhaps I was just too high maintenance.
But I've stopped dwelling on the why's. I'm focusing on the how's. I now know that that clock is me. I am the clock that stopped. I'm removing the clock. Because the clock's not broken. And maybe, just maybe, with the right connection, the clock that stopped can learn to tick again.