I took my watch off this weekend. I wanted to get rid of my tan line and it was the only respectable thing I could remove. I have been without a watch for long periods. When you are in jail it is one of the identifying features to be removed. I suppose it saves the odd wealthy person from being mugged but outside of that it only succeeds in slowing down time which crawls at the best of time. I never heard an inmate mutter anything about time flying. “Wow, it’s been six months, where does the time go?” A season like summer can fly by if you’re a student but in jail or hospital it’s simply long and hot. When it is over often there is another season to endure.
When I was in the Hole, time did not exist in a fashion I was used to. Circadian rhythms were blocked out by the concrete surrounding me. The only cycle I knew was delivered on a tray and often did not coincide with any hunger. If I was able to sleep I would wake up and wait for a guard to peek through my four inch window. I would gesture to my wrist and he would hold up fingers. I would already have my blankets folded and be ready for a meal. Often it was three in the morning. I had no fridge to open to occupy myself with food. There was no TV and iPods weren’t even invented let alone allowed. There was no one to ask “are you sleeping?” in the hope of stirring another into my uncomfortable void. Usually I would vacuum. I always went barefoot and would walk around my 5 by 8 and brush crumbs and lint that collected on my feet into my toilet. I retain this habit and can often be found in my apartment brushing whatever might cling to my feet into my toilet or the nearest garbage. I have a cat and dog so the vacuum is always running. The entire jail slept while I ran my jail powered model. The guards would sometimes put me in different Holes and medical cells and I am certain it was in part due to my cleanliness. Some cleaning fell on their shoulders and it was delegated to me. I could write a housekeeping article on how to use toilet paper and water to make your “house” sparkle.
I digress. Back to time, rather than back in time. Without my watch this weekend I was conscious of how many times I looked at the pale skin on my wrist. I didn’t have my “friend?” to tell me things. Time tells us when to eat, whether we are hungry or not and when to sleep, whether we are tired or not. Time tells us when to come and go, whether we are ready to or not. It tells us when we can drive, vote and drink as though a day causes some miraculous shift in maturity. Time tells us we have plenty of it or not enough. It can change our behaviour from relaxed to stressed simply with a glance at some gears on our wrist. Time tells us how old we are regardless of how we might feel otherwise. Time tells us when to have children or to make the attempt. It can tell us we should be married despite happiness or whether we are in love or not. Time can tell us many things but maybe we need to listen more to ourselves.
Time is a measurement created by mankind but is it a measure of mankind? All life is seemingly moved by time but humans seem the only creatures bound by minutes. The sun rises on time and sets on time but there can be no time like the present to get your vacuuming done 🙂