Passing the Hours: Counting down to the new year with a time expert

Athens
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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - Minute by minute, 2014 eroded out from underneath us.

As the metaphorical sands of time churn through the gears of our mechanical hourglasses, some watch more closely than others.

Bill Wilkes teaches economics at Athens State University. But in his spare moments, he hovers over clocks that lose their way with time.

He admits, "I'm a mechanically minded individual."

So he's drawn to the swing and twist of the keepers of the hour.

"That's how I got into it," he tells us, "It was just a curiosity."

Decades later, he keeps a house full of clocks that he knows inside and out. Wilkes loves timepieces so much, he does repair work for other people, but even with all the tools and tinkering, most of the clocks on his own walls don't even work.

Instead they showcase farm maidens and stately gents who watch over hours that will never pass.

When Wilkes does work he tracks seconds, but he thinks in terms of centuries, "When you're restoring a really fine clock, you, in essence, are carrying on the tradition of that clockmaker."

As he shows off his collection, he points out the signatures on the faces. They belong to the people who set time in motion for these works of art, that Wilkes just wants to get right, "I like to believe that if he were still alive, he'd say, 'Job well done.'"

But he takes it one clock at a time, not concerning himself with the dozen or so around him that don't tick.

He tells us, "I have a pretty good idea of what time it is."

Perhaps when it comes to the passing years, we should worry less about perfection, and embrace the beauty of our delicate work here.

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