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A shackle and a safeguard October 14, 2010

Posted by Conventioneering in Armchair philosophy.

I lost my watch today.

This is horrible. This is a big deal. This is something I can’t handle, something I hate. Not simply because the watch was nice (it was) or because it was extremely expensive (it was), but because I’m a watch person.

This is hard to describe. In this day and age, almost everyone I know uses their cell phones to check the time. I find this awkward. You have to fumble around in your bag before removing the phone, get the screen to turn on, check the time, then put it away again. With a watch, you just look at your wrist. And the watch has other functions, too – mine had a kitchen timer in it that I used for my laundry and eggs and cooking. My phone does this too, but my phone isn’t something I want to have to have nearby when I’m dealing with hot oils or tomatoes or whatever. As for laundry, having the timer on my wrist is a far better way to get me to remember. I don’t carry my phone with me constantly when I’m home, or even when I’m out.

But there’s a second level to this. I have attention deficit disorder (specifically, ADHD-I, or, adult inattentive type). I make no secret of this. There are times when I will zone out, lapse in attention, or be elsewhere. This makes my relationships difficult – I already know that all of my teachers this year are frustrated with me, not to mention many of my classmates, because I simply cannot always control what I am and am not paying attention to. I can’t sit still. I draw or write in class.

As such, I’ve always had trouble keeping schedules. I live a life of paradox. On the one hand, I need structure. I need to have people tell me what to do, where to be, how to behave, because without that I get completely lost. I need to be told multiple times, over and over; I need to set schedules and calendar dates and things need to be regular otherwise I get hopelessly lost.

The watch was a lifeline. The watch was both a shackle and a safeguard. In college it was the only way to know when I had to be somewhere – I’d program alarms into it, check it every five seconds. This is when I need to be in so-and-so’s office. This is when I have such-and-such class. At work, it was the only way I could remember reliably when my breaks were, and when I needed to be off them, so I could go out for lunch or outside. When my watch broke, I was completely lost, often too late or too early for everything. Once I missed a break entirely.

On a psychological level, I need it. The watch is safety. The watch is the only way I can schedule my life. When should I be at the train station? What time should I get up? I live and die by that circle on my wrist.

I hope I find it. I’ve torn apart my house searching, but still there is no sign. I cannot afford a new one.

In the meantime, I feel lost, adrift in time, and I check the back of my wrist, searching for stability.



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