A few months ago my grandmother had decided she wanted the clock that her father had built to find a new home within the family and I was quick to raise my hand to volunteer to care for the family heirloom.
It was quite the adventure transporting the 6 foot clock in my little Honda hatchback but it fit, just.
I spent the next few weeks re-calibrating the timing and got it to the point where it is keeping time well enough that I only have to adjust it by about a minute once each week. After seeing this letter from E.B. White posted on the Letters of Note site, I started my routine of winding the clock and making my small correction every Sunday. This routine reminds me weekly of the wonderful message of hope E.B. White communicated in his letter.
In March of 1973, E.B. White wrote the following perfectly formed reply to a Mr. Nadeau, who sought White’s opinion on what he saw as a bleak future for the human race.
Dear Mr. Nadeau:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
I am very grateful to have this wonderful clock built by my great grandfather, Albert H. Ensor, in 1978 in my living room today as a regular reminder of family history of taking pride in craftsmanship and to remember to hang on to my hat, hang on to my hope, and wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.