The Backward Clock

young__middle_aged__old_by_happybunnyboyShaving one morning I glanced through the mirror at the clock behind me and noticed that it was moving backwards.  I turned around and the spin of the second hand was correct but through the mirror it was the opposite.

Throughout that day I was “backwarding” myself beginning with July, ’52, then November, ’63, then September ’69, May, ’75, June, ’76, June ’79, September, ’79, May, ’80, September, ’82, February, ’92, June, ’92, December, ’94, December ’14.  Those dates mean nothing to you because you have your own “back” dates.  Mark your times and those circumstances along with that smell or sound, what you were wearing and who you were with and what you were thinking and what the future or the past meant by that date.

Shaving reminded me that my “back” is now far longer than my “forward.”  In our U.S. culture preoccupied with youthful stuff this “back” is lamented to its utmost extreme but to one who has a “back,” I find it both comforting and fulfilling.  The “forward” now is pure fluff, extra innings, sudden death, the extra mile, the last herrah, the fat lady will eventually sing her song, the party’s close to ending, close the door on your way out, pick up your stuff before you leave.  It’s the “back” that fills me up because it has filled me up.

Just listen to someone over 80 who is up to date on today’s topics but will just as quickly shave herself quickly back to her “back” and her loving, deceased husband of sixty-five years or the five bedroom home of 45 years she needed to sell.  We all listen to her and think to ourselves how sad her life turned out when her life turned out exactly and un-exactly as she planned.  As only life has been and will continue to be

I was interviewed by a young person for a podcast and he asked me about my ups and downs.  At his young age he asked me if I would change anything.  I smiled and said, “Absolutely not because I would not be the person I am today.”  He didn’t respond but smiled at me as though he thinks he knows what his future holds.  “Stay tuned, young man,” I wanted to say but didn’t.

Shavings a tricky business for us guys.  I don’t know what it’s like on the legs but the “backward” works with all its memories – remembered slightly remembered, somewhat remembered or reinvented. The “forward” stretches of my razor are now a cinch because I always know I have my “back” covered.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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