Harutyun Jinanyan, Who Fixed Time

Harutyun Jinanyan always wanted to have a career in art, so he chose to become a stage director. However, when he turned fifty, he found out, with horror, that despite his working at the most prestigious TV channel and having a decent job, what he was doing was not one bit creative. Instead, it was monotonous and tedious — and he was not enjoying it at all. Harutyun decided to quit and went off to find delight in his talent.

Jinanyan decided to go to the end of the world — namely, to New York. He had some savings; the embassy was kind enough to issue him a yearly visa, so he just bought a ticket and flew off.

“In New York, at first, I just strolled among the skyscrapers and couldn’t understand what I was doing there”, Harutyun recalls. “I felt horrible. I was an alien in a strange city with strange people around. I didn’t know the language and I didn’t have a job. At this point, I decided to relax and go wherever my luck would take me.”

Sometimes, it is the only right decision. His luck brought Harutyun to New York’s artists. Although he had never done this before, right before his journey to the US, quite out of the blue, he took up painting. The artists he met had a hard time believing that he was so inexperienced and had never studied painting — his drawings were very interesting.

In New York, Harutyun Jinanyan moved into a dormitory room his friends helped him find and drew for several months nonstop. He took part in a few contemporary art exhibitions and was absolutely happy. He did not have a fancy job or a huge salary anymore, but he felt, for the first time in his life, that he was doing something right, that he enjoyed what he was doing. Pure, unobstructed creativity was a source of so much fun — unlike a high-paying prestigious job. If going halfway around the world was necessary to discover this feeling, it was definitely worth it.

This blissful life lasted for five months. After that, Harutyun knew he had to go back, as his money ran out and his family missed him. He had come to New York as a confused unemployed stage director and left it as happy free artist. It was crucial to maintain this astonishing feeling of joyous creativity and he succeeded in that. Further still, he found a totally new and unusual method to fulfil himself as an artist and to enjoy the process. Here is how it happened.

Once he saw an old lady on the street: she was selling an old Yerevan watch. Harutyun grew up in Yerevan and loved it very much, and when he was young, he had acted in a film set at the very watch factory that had manufactured the piece now being sold by the old lady. So, he bought it and brought it home. The watch didn’t work.

Harutyun removed the case and began examining the mechanism. Like most people, he knew nothing about it. Having spent a day scrutinizing the watch, Harutyun went and bought another vintage piece. Then another one. He struggled to grasp the principle, disassembling cog wheels and springs for several days, until finally a miracle happened and the watch started ticking.

It felt like magic, and he didn’t want to let it go. Harutyun continued disassembling and examining mechanical watches. Step by step, he has become a unique watchmaker. He turns old watches into outlandish pieces of art, working mechanisms that are almost like living organisms. The hobby he had stumbled upon quite accidentally now brings him the joy he had always dreamt about.

“After fifty, I realized that the most important thing is to stay childlike,” says Harutyun. “When you are a kid, time feels endless. After we grow up, we begin chasing our goals, participating in a rat race, and we lose this feeling that time is endless. Everything in modern society tries to kill our inner child, to shut him up. We are told that it is undignified to behave like a child and that we should all strive to achieve success. I don’t want to be successful anymore. To remain childlike is, in my opinion, a true success. At fifty, I acted like a child: I disassembled a watch to see what was inside. This, however, led me to happiness.

Harutyun still works as a director at some TV projects to earn a living. However, he only chooses projects that he finds inspiring so that they do not turn his life into a meaningless treadmill. The money he earns may be not as impressive as before, but it is enough to keep him afloat and allow him to practice his art.

Sometimes it is easy to sell his pieces, sometimes less so. Harutyun does not worry about it. He doesn’t do his art for money. It is the other way around: he earns money to be able to do creative work.

It took him fifty years to learn to live like that. In his opinion, it was worth it.