Watch it and weep

Do you wear a watch?

I do. Not a fancy one, and not a digital one. Just a good old-fashioned Ecclessi analog watch my husband gave me quite a few years ago for my birthday. (Come to think of it, the first gift he ever gave me was a watch. Hmmm… can we read something into that?)

Tikker: The Happiness Watch. Huh?

Tikker: The Happiness Watch. Huh?

Recently I heard about a new kind of watch. Not just any watch. This is “Tikker – The wrist watch that counts down your life!” (also tag-lined as “The Happiness Watch.”)

I was fascinated, intrigued, repulsed, and, of course, gripped by existential dread.

Why would anyone want to wear a reminder of their mortality on their wrist?

After I got over my initial shock, it turned out I could think of quite a number of reasons, many of which were enumerated on the Kickstarter page for Tikker. Apparently, many people are intrigued by the concept, as the project was funded with more than three times the amount requested.

On the face of it, nothing would seem more antithetical to the idea of living in the moment than being able to glance at your watch and see an estimated number of years, days, hours, and minutes until your death. But, perhaps counterintuitively, reminding us our time here is finite is the watch’s way of goading us into making the most of every moment.

By Radicalcourse [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In-the-moment logo by Radicalcourse [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, as practitioners of mindfulness know, there’s a difference between making the most of every moment and being aware of every moment. The first aims to do something with the moments; the latter aims simply to bring attention to the present moment. Perhaps for me, a watch that simply reads “NOW” would make more sense.

Around the same time I heard about Tikker, I listened to a podcast of Radiolab’s show Apocalyptical – Live from the Paramount in Seattle featuring a segment about The Endgame Project. The project involves two actors with decades of experience between them who mount a production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame. The intriguing part is that both actors have Parkinson’s disease and must struggle simply to rehearse.

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett. (Roger Pic [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

You can’t get much more dreadfully existential than Beckett, and the project’s site features a quote from Beckett that I’ve been mulling recently: “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” It seems to resonate with me particularly because of some challenges I have been going through that defy easy solutions and pat answers.

Both of these ideas—the countdown watch and the idea that life goes on whether you feel up to the task of living it or not—illustrate the fact that our lives as humans are both painfully exquisite and exquisitely painful. The adjective slashers among you may be readying your red pens over those two word pairings. But they resonate.

Would you ever wear a Tikker? Do you go on, even when you can’t? As for me, my analog watch tells me it’s time for a mid-morning snack. There’s nothing like a rumbling stomach to bring you out of the ether and into the present moment.

Some happy stuff

And now for something more upbeat. A Journal of Impossible Things nominated this blog for a Liebster award. In my surlier days, I would have groused about the artifice of bouncing around the blogosphere handing out kudos. But, by participating in these kinds of activities over the last couple of years, I’ve been turned on to some fascinating people I would otherwise never have found. This will be my opportunity to give back to the blogging community. You’ll have to wait a few weeks, though, since the dictates of the Liebster require some work. Stay tuned!

25 thoughts on “Watch it and weep

  1. Congrats on your Liebster! Well-deserved! I’ve been enjoying all of your blogs, but this one resonates for me in a personal way. Like you, I have new and tricky “challenges” of my own (besides the emotional challenges we all face at this moment in political history), and marvel at how much you are able to accomplish. You have an internal motivation that tops the Tikker! The Tikker would not be my answer. A capacity to prioritize and organize time is as important as the awareness of life’s brevity.

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  2. I’ve been practicing mindfulness for a little while, and I just don’t think that watch would help me. I would be so stressed! I do love watches though, and I wear a smart watch to work that helps me feel productive.

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  3. Great post. Suzie sent me. I like the idea; especially if I can fool the watch by becoming immortal. I like the idea of a tattoo watch; however, it would be a mind-numbing task to decide what time to set it to. Also, winding it up may be quite painful.

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  4. So many people take life for granted and assume they can do things later because we are all guaranteed a later (heavy sarcasm there). I like the idea of a constant reminder of how precious our time truly is. I’d wear that watch though it would be hard to meet up using it since we all have different death times we are counting down to. 🙂

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  5. Congratulations, Liebster! Ten years ago I would NOT have worn a watch counting down toward my end. Thinking about time limits was depressing. Now? At 58, I probably still wouldn’t, although I like the idea. A once a day reminder is probably enough though. Living in the now all the time might make it even harder to motivate myself to clean the toilets and get the taxes done. You could design an iphone app that pops up once a day.

    I like the Dalai Lama quote that starts: Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive …

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  6. I swear I’ve had an internal Tikker watch since 1968! For those of us with existential angst already hardwired in, no need for a Tikker. But I wholeheartedly agree with your comment that life is “painfully exquisite and exquisitely painful.” I’ve used almost those same words in the short story I mentioned to you! But I must recommend, in combat to the terrestrial Tikker, a book called “The Holographic Universe.” This book helps expand out of the limited “Tikker” box mentality and helps you embrace the infinite possibilities that are beckoning to us in life, dreaming and the cosmos. It is a game changer. If you read, I would love to hear your impression.

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    • I agree that some of us seem to have this awareness hardwired in. Especially those of us who lean toward becoming artists, poets, creators. I would love to check out the book and will definitely let you know when I do.

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  7. Congratulations on your award! I await the chance to learn more.

    Nice piece, Audrey. I always find your work to be so clean and clear. And, you touch on such important matters without becoming maudlin or soupy. Thanks for writing.

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  8. I’m with you–a watch that said “NOW” would make more sense for me. I struggle to remain in the moment, but I’m cognizant of my limited time on earth, so I don’t think a countdown to my death would do anything more than stress me out. But a reminder to live in the here and now? Yeah, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I suppose I could always tattoo the word on my wrist… 😉

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