I bought a cheap watch from a crazy man
Floating down Canal.
It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands,
It always just says Now.
Now you may be thinking that I was had,
But this watch is never wrong.
And If I have trouble the warranty said
‘Breathe in, breathe out, move on.’
I spent last week on vacation. Traded seven days of Virginia Mountains for seven days of North Carolina beaches. Emerald Isle, to be exact. If there was ever a name more fitting of its location, it’s that.
I’d spent a good four months looking forward to the trip. It’s been a tough time at work, a tough time all around, and of course everyone knows the cure for a tough time is an easy place.
But the truth? As the day of our departure drew closer, I didn’t want to leave. There was so much that needed to be done. So much that must be finished or started or continued. Dropping everything to sit in the sand seemed a little selfish and irresponsible. I was too busy to go on vacation. That’s not to say I thought the world would fall apart in my absence. I guess it had more to do with the notion that I’d held on tight for so long that I’d forgotten the value in letting go.
And there is value in letting go. There’s a lot.
At some point we’re all introduced to the fact that we do not make the world spin. But in this age of technological wonder where so many of us are driven—and at times even expected—to share our thoughts and happenings to the world with a simple click of a button, it’s easy to convince yourself that even if you don’t make the world spin, it will nonetheless go wobbly without you. I won’t say I fell for that lie. I will say I was headed in that general direction.
I spend much of my life on the written page. I count that as a blessing rather than a curse. And yet after so much time spent looking outward at the world, I found I was losing a bit of me in the process. Over the past year I have heard from a great many people about a great many things, and yet I realized I rarely heard from myself about the things that mattered most.
In the end that’s why I fled to the ocean, that vast expanse of nothingness that is so big it drowns out the little things and renders the big things bare. No writing, no news, no computer. Just deer, crabs, and the three dolphins that played tag just beyond the waves each morning outside my window.
And you know what I found when I returned home? That I didn’t miss much. Anthony Weiner resigned. More jobs were lost. There were floods and drought. Wars. Accusations. More of the same. The earth spun and I followed, though for seven precious days I chose to trail at my own speed rather than to flail at keeping up with everyone and everything else.
What I learned there will likely fill these pages for the time being. There’s much to ponder and memories to sift. My week at the shore resembled a fine wine in that the flavor is only truly tasted upon swallowing.
In the meantime, I leave you with this:
It isn’t how full our days are that matter, but how fully we live them.
Not how fast we go, but how closely we look.
Not how much we hear, but how often we listen.
Not how often we laugh more than cry, but how often we’re willing to do both.
Time well spent is valuable, but so is time well wasted. I know that now. Because it’s in those minutes and hours that we are still and quiet and watching and listening that the truths we seek are made manifest. They appear like glistening shells washed upon endless shores, offerings for the taking.
Before I left I was convinced that wealth was best measured in happiness and peace and good memories. I know better now.
I know now that wealth is best measured in moments.