Showdown with the clock

by Candice Navi

I am Clarissa Dalloway. Or at least, I have a theory about how similar we are.

For those of you who don’t know, Virginia Woolf’s novel “Mrs. Dalloway” is the best book I’ve read. If you haven’t read it, go do so now (my column can wait). But back to my theory. Clarissa and I have the same fundamental themes ruling our lives: a fear of time and a desire for human connection.

Between living and remembering, Clarissa is always stunned when Big Ben chimes and “leaden circles dissolve in the air” every hour. “Story of my life” is an understatement. Birthdays, the ending of a month, my alarm going off five days a week at 6:47 a.m., the computers shutting down in Weiler at 11 p.m. as we frantically try to print A2, or when exactly 30 minutes have passed during a funny episode of “Community.” With every period ended, every newspaper distributed, every bag of apples consumed, I am aware of time disappearing. All these and more serve as my own menacing, chiming Big Ben.

For my whole life, it’s been “Candice Versus Time” (a constant uphill battle that I have inevitably lost). Then I read the thoughts of Septimus Smith, Peter Walsh and Sally Seton in my AP Literature class with Larry Weber. I gawked at the chapter-less 194 pages and the third person stream of consciousness. Who cares about an aging woman’s preparations for a trivial party? And why is she afraid of clocks?

I reached the bottom of page 191 and read: “Cleverness was silly. One must say simply what one felt.” Those 10 simple words led to my new philosophy.

Genuine connections were made with people I had kept at arm’s length for years; acquaintances became friends and strangers became familiar faces. Classes became more than a place of test taking, but a time for camaraderie and fun. Gone was the clutter of preconceived notions. I stopped over thinking and filtering and just lived. Although this shift had repercussions academically, I couldn’t care less. Clarissa confirmed what I had known all along; friendships made, moments experienced and memories formed are all that will remain.

The Chronicle, I owe you for the best memories of my Harvard-Westlake career. Thank you for giving my random and completely useless understanding of Photoshop and design a purpose and my neurotic-germaphobic-basket-case personality a home.

I finally stopped fearing the heat of the sun. Leaden circles of time dissolved in the air and my life continued, uninterrupted. I was finally able to stop noting the passage of every second and I lived. No longer do I think of my life in chapters or volumes; humanity cannot be anything but a stream of consciousness, unremitting.