I am of the era that wore/wears a watch. Much as I love technology, I don’t depend on my phone for the time. After all, a watch is an accoutrement of fashion, one I feel half-dressed without. Currently, I have four. I wear them because they are fun and pretty, and if I’m being honest, when presented with any opportunity to wear jewelry, I wear it.
The passing of time should have been meaningless to me when I was younger—as perhaps it should be for all children and young people. Growing pains, bullying, acne, fights with best friends, should all pass by quickly. No one wants to remember those things let alone have them drag on interminably, tortuously, yet the timetable of life, in our younger years, was ruled by the clock.
In school, we measured time by the hideous clocks hung from every wall, ugly round things with white dials, black numerals, and hands that ticked down the minutes and seconds until lunch, a favorite class, recess, dismissal, a harbinger of freedom. Rarely were they synchronized or even set to the correct time. If it weren’t for the bell signaling freedom, we might all still be sitting there today, rooted to those tiny chairs with the attached tables carved up with initials, undersides liberally festooned with dried bubble gum in rainbow hues.
But post-graduation, released from the halls of academia, we ceased watching time, lived our lives. We were free, no longer bound to a schedule that dictated where we should be each and every hour. We no longer watched the clock, excepting the occasional counting down of hours at work until happy hour, so weekends, holidays, and vacations flew by unchecked. We fell in love. We married, had children, and divorced. We were hired, changed jobs, and were fired.
Now, firmly steeped in the latter half of my life, I have become, once again a watcher of time.
I find I no longer have the luxury of wasting time by not being aware of its passing. I do not want to check my watch and find, to my dismay, that a whole afternoon has gone by, that it’s five o’clock and time to think about the evening meal when in fact, I thought that lunchtime had only just gone by.
Time has become too precious to me to lose track of it, for each day is a gift to be opened gently, tape slit and paper carefully unfolded, the days of gleefully tearing at the wrapping, casting it carelessly aside now in the past.
I’m reminded of the expression, “A watched pot never boils.” When we are children, we know when to expect a certain event: vacation, Christmas, summer, all of which we await anxiously, but the more we watch the clock, count the days on the calendar, the slower time goes by, each minute, hour, and day appearing an eternity.
So I will forever wear a watch. I enjoy watching it—the “watched pot”—that slows time. I revel in the creeping tick tock, seconds and minutes crawling slowly by, thinking about how much time in the day I have. I like to think about what I’ll do with it. How many hours I’ll have to write that morning or afternoon. I think about catching up with friends by phone, visiting my parents, reading, or baking cookies.
My desperate need to slow time reminds me I’m still alive. That there is more life to live, and despite these challenging times we live in, I continue to crave one more minute, one more hour, one more day.
So if you’re with me, if we are sitting under an umbrella at the beach watching the world go by, lunching in Italy with a view of Mount Etna, or strolling the streets of Saint-Paul de Vence in France and you catch me glancing at my watch, please don’t be offended.
I’m simply slowing time, prolonging the minutes, the only way I know how.