Term Paper: Simple Watch

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¶ … Watch

Observation of "some Old Thing" watch reminds me of more than the time of day

Ordinary objects are strange beyond measure or explanation. Language, which is so useful to communicate, sometimes struggles to communicate deeply felt feelings and intuitions. What is stranger still is that ordinary mundane objects in one's life sometimes assume a new reality on examination. I found this out when I re-discovered the simple watch on my arm.

The watch that I wear is small and delicate, but nothing extraordinary. It is an analogue watch and rather old fashioned, with a single hand that goes around the white face and a smaller second hand that traverses the surface. There are no marking on the watch, except for very small black marks to indicate the hours. I received it as a gift three years ago and while it is attractive, it is extremely plain and functional - almost completely forgettable.

One day I was in a distracted and rather brooding or meditative state of mind. I was thinking about life and the many questions that existence throws on our path. Questions and musings about life's aims and meaning crossed my mind as I observed the light beginning to fall in the late afternoon. I was also struck by the thought that all of life is very mysterious. On occasion one slips out of the routine repetition of mundane activities and stands back to reassess where one is going. This was one of those times.

While I was engrossed in my thoughts, I became aware that I was playing with my watch. I was idly rubbing the round surface and this is some way was reassuring. I think that this is a habit that I have got used to and wonder if the watch is not an object of reassurance or something to hold onto when in doubt. It is an object that is always there and part of ones every waking moment. I felt the round glass and the small winding wheel. I automatically wound the watch for a while and found that this action seemed to strop my thoughts.

Then something strange happened. For an instant while I was half unconsciously playing with the watch face and looking out of the window at the clouds moving so slowly across the sky, for one second I become somehow intensely aware of the existence of the watch as something real, different and almost alive. I suppose one could explain this strange feeling of awareness as a result of the mood that I was absorbed in and my meditative frame of mind. But the feeling was much more intense than this and even though I tried to move my thoughts back to the questions I had been thinking about, the awareness of the watch on my arm grew, until it felt like a heavy weight that was pulling my arm down.

A watch is there to keep track of time. This simple insight came like a shock to me. I cannot explain the rush of awareness that entered me as I realized that the watch was ticking away and measuring the moments and the hours of my life. When I received the watch from my birthday many years ago, I was pleased but slightly disappointed at its minimalist appearance. I would have preferred something more ornate and ostentatious. The watch is little more than a plain white casing, a glass covering and two red hands that go around the face of the watch. Except for the small winding wheel that is barely visible, there is little else to the watch. It is almost not there at all and never makes a sound - yet this watch was measuring and keeping track of my life and it was involved in every part of my waking day.

Possibly one of the best aspects of the watch is its perfect roundness. I moved my finger along the edges and avoided the small wheel that extends slightly from the bottom of the case. The roundness was pleasant to the touch and the smooth glass added to the sensation. It was almost like rubbing a very smooth apple.

When I looked at the watch, I was amazed at the way that the glass surface reflected the world around me. Due to the shape of the glass, the entire room in which I sat was reflected in minute detail in the watch glass. It was distorted but recognizable. The shapes outside in the changing light were also reflected in the glass and I was entranced by the different shapes and contrasts that appeared and shimmered on the surface of the glass. It was as if the ordinary world around me had been magically transformed and I could see the room and the sky from a different perspective.

Observing objects in the room around me in the watch face made me realize that all my problem and concerns were only one perspective and that the world and things around us is continually changing and altering. I realized that time also changed things. While this may seem to be a rather obvious statement the realization of this fact was more than just a logical realization but was also a moment of intense emotional insight.

My enjoyment of the play of light on the surface of the watch was disturbed by the movement of the small hand as it steadily moved around the white circle of the watch. Suddenly I was back in the ordinary world of measurement and the many problems and questions that were part of my daily life. The magical changing and distorting interface of the watch was gone and replaced by a sense of anxiety and stress.

A became fixated by the moving hand and the way that it never stopped but kept on going around and around. In fact, in my imagination the small hand of the clock seemed to accelerate, although I knew that this could not be the case.

Suddenly I was aware of the duties and the work that had to be completed and the world suddenly crowded back into the room and forced out the more meditative thoughts that I had.

A began to arrange my books for study and think about the work that had to be done by tomorrow. My pulse quickened and the watch, which I had hardly noticed in all these years, seemed to be too tight on my wrest. I tried to loosen the strap and found that there were no more holes to make it wider. I become somewhat frustrated and tried to take the watch from my wrist. In doing so, I scraped my skin on the small winding wheel.

At that moment, the small wheel seemed ugly and stiff and it did not belong to the smooth round and delicate watch. It reminded me of the duties that I had to complete and the need to constantly wind the watch. I realized immediately that I was thinking irrationally and that I had never in three years been irritated by my watch. I had always considered it a mundane item and an ordinary object in my life of little real importance.

On that day, the watch seemed to take on an new life of its own. It seemed to have a power over my life. I took it off and placed it on the chair next to me. I knew that the strange power of the watch that I felt was because it was connected to not only the time and events of my life but also to the world of time in which wee all live. I thought of the millions of people living their lives and looking at watches and clocks. I could not help thinking that one… [END OF PREVIEW]

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