When someone asks you the time do you glance at your wrist or reach for your pocket? For all of my adult life I have worn a watch. Mostly it has been the same watch, a 1982 Accutron Quartz. In the 1960’s Bulova began making Accutron watches. They contained a small tuning fork that created a fixed frequency that regulated the time. They were the most accurate watches on the planet… and in space, the astronauts wore them to the moon. Then came the quartz movement revolution, very accurate and dependable. I’ve only had to change the battery every few years for the past 35 years…until it began to run intermittently. Having the watch refurbished would have cost more than the watch is worth, so I decided that for my upcoming birthday I would buy myself a new watch. I choose a Seiko automatic., a throwback to a mechanical movement that is self-winding…no batteries needed.

I have become fascinated with having a second hand on my watch. A visible reminder of time’s passage. Every time that I glance at my watch and see the seconds ticking off, I am aware that for every second that passes, the remaining seconds in my life become ever more precious.

There is a long history of contemplation of death as a means of gratitude for life. There is even an app for your phone now called WeCroak that sends reminders to your phone at unpredictable intervals that you and everyone you know are going to die (see the article in the Atlantic,January 2018, When Death Pings). I prefer to use my second hand… 

“And though your green youth flowers as yet,

In creeps age always, silent as stone,

And death menaces every age, and smites

In every rank, for there escapes no one:

And even though certain as we each know

That we shall die, as uncertain we all 

Be of that day when death shall on us fall” *

The price we pay for our consciousness is the knowledge of our mortality. As the second hand sweeps to eternity, I am grateful for every second. Think of this when you count down to the New Year.

Happy New Year 2018


*The Canterbury Tales, circa 1400 ; Geoffrey Chaucer, translation by Peter Tuttle

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