When I ran cross country and track and field in high school, having a digital watch was damn near essential to being on the team. You could get away with not having one, but the coaching staff would shout condescendingly about how you didn't care about the sport or weren't "captain material." Disregarding their comments, we needed the watches for their stopwatch function, so we could time and evaluate our workouts and races. Besides races and workouts, we also used them on our runs, stretches, core exercises, and icing routines. A watch really serves as a runner's swiss army knife, a versatile tool that gets them out of any messy situation and keeps them on the ground running.
That reliance on a watch got me wearing one all day and night, making its absence all the more jarring. When I broke my watch about a year ago and couldn't get a replacement for a couple months, I began to acknowledge how much time controls how I lived life.
Perhaps that sounds dramatic. After all, couldn't I just check the time on my phone or laptop or any of the hundred other sources that tell time? That's true, but the convenience of a watch, which merely requires a flick of the wrist to check, whereas lifting a phone to your face is a somewhat more cumbersome act that—although nearly effortless—still can't compete with a watch. The phone's clock also competes with all your notifications to grab your attention, while the simple interface of a digital watch is much more direct. When I couldn't use my watch, the loss of such utter convenience made time seem a more distant force that had less importance to me. Call me lazy if you want, but I just didn't care about the time as much.
How exactly could a watch control someone's life? Well, since our society itself is structured around the understanding of time, we obey its passage and are subject to its every whim. Whether you're heading to class, planning a work schedule, or getting dinner with a friend, everything is based on the time. It doesn't seem so sinister on the surface, but our obedience of time can feel like an inevitable oppression. Think about all those times you wanted time to fly by during class or when you wanted time to freeze while with a friend and the opposite effect would always occur. Frantically checking your watch amplifies that temporal discomfort, so imagine how someone with their watch, which also has the date of the month, timer, and alarm function, would be yoked by time's harsh reins. Constantly checking the time like a freshman who's had two shots of espresso too many might drive him a little bit crazy.
Now imagine how I, an avid watch-wearer, would cope with suddenly not having that power at all times. It was incredibly disorienting at first to not have time tied to my wrist, and it was certainly embarrassing to get caught looking at my empty wrist when someone asked what date it was. Yet this experience gradually liberated me from my reliance on my watch. I slowly accepted that the time of day didn't really matter in my daily routine. When I had my watch, I'd intermittently check to see if time would obey my beck and call, but when I lacked that power, I simply allowed time to run its course, letting minutes turn into hours. In this counterintuitive acceptance of time's predominance, I didn't gain control of time itself, but I learned to control how I reacted to and worked within its grasp. I could deal with being a minute or two late to class or have my coach scold me; I was free from the repression of fast and slow time and given the tools to merely enjoy the time allotted to me.
As I run now, I only look at my new watch once I'm done running. I don't let the run duration command what I do as I just adjust my plan based off of how I feel. The clock's ticks and tocks are an assumed background melody rather than a malicious metronome counting down to my demise. And every now and then, when I've got a lot of time on my hands—and wrist—I set my watch down and purposefully ignore the clocks on my devices to just let time work its hidden magic.
There's enough time in the world for the events that need to happen to occur, and they'll come when the time is right. You just need to watch out for them.