The Old School Christmas Gift that will Change My 2021

Photo by Jaelynn Castillo on Unsplash

I have never routinely worn watches. Maybe, for around a week or so, I would form an interest in having a watch, because it was a refined look for a cosmopolitan 7 year-old like myself. But, like most kids, cosmopolitan or otherwise, I did not have a need to tell the time, nor did I have the capacity to remember to put it on everyday.

Flash forward to high school where telling the time might be useful. I still did not need a watch. There were bells for class starting and ending, and the general flow of people around the school gave you a feeling of what time it was anyway. A light murmur signified class time, the rustling of potato chip packets suggested recess, and if you could not see anyone, chances were that school was over. By 15, everyone I knew had a phone, and the phone told the time, so my wrist did not need to.

Now that I pretend to be an adult, and work predominantly from home, all of my time is susceptible to the management of the clock. This includes work calls, doctor’s appointments, social catch ups, and finding time for exercise. I use my phone for most of the timing of my day, and this year, my phone was a distracting assistant.

While all I wanted was the time, I looked down and often got more than I bargained for. Dopamine bounced off the walls of my brain from seeing who might want to talk to me, tag me in a photo, or challenge me to a game of Chess. Checking the time, is now entangled with checking in on the world. Checking the news headlines, checking the share markets, falling down YouTube rabbit holes and WWE Top 10 lists. I grab my phone to check the time, and find that I can lose half an hour. I do not check time any more, I just lose it.

My girlfriend got me a watch for Christmas.

Now, when I check the time, I get the time.

Nothing more.


Essayist and start up-er based in Shanghai, writing stories from everyday life and doing business in China.

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