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?)
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.
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.
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!