I Lost My Watch

I lost my watch.

Literally.  During my weekend with friends from college, I lost my watch.  And I had thought I was being careful.  I took it off each time we went to the beach and tossed it into some catch-all of mine — my purse, my briefcase, my luggage.  Come to think of it, that was the only purpose for the briefcase all weekend.

But Sunday night, after the last delicious, communal dinner, I began gathering my stuff in preparation for my early a.m. departure.  And I searched for my watch, the better to stay on schedule when day dawned on Monday.  But the watch was no place to be found.  It wasn’t in pockets or buried in cushions or stowed in my various bags.  It was missing.  And it still is.   It’s a bit sad: I was truly fond of the style, though it wasn’t a terribly expensive timepiece.

But here’s the good news. While we were at the beach, I also lost my watch figuratively.  For  the last two decades I’ve somehow combined virtually every vacation with business, or I have made an effort to get work done while away from the office.   I’ve always thought I was taking some time for myself; time to refuel my batteries.   But after the total relaxation of this weekend,  I realize that I’ve been pulling down on my power source about as quickly as I’ve been recharging it.

This weekend, I took  time for  long walks on the beach without a deadline for returning to work or arriving at an appointment.   I had long conversations with old friends about the state of their lives now, how spouses’ illnesses were bending the trajectory of their existences, as well as how unforeseen successes had transformed these women I knew as students into adults with major contributions to society.  We sang along to an oldies station, pleasantly surprised to remember words to the most obscure, not to mention corny, old songs.  We marveled that even at our ages we were agile in mind and body.  And we laughed.  Lord knows.  We laughed through recalled imitations of Lady Bird Johnson (“Remember, if George Hamilton, the movie star, can make a thang of beauty of Linda Bird, we can make America beautiful.”)  We made the mental calculations when one friend expressed a desire to kill her brother and was met with the rejoinder “if I’d done that the first time I thought of it, I’d be out by now.” Yeah, probably so.

And we sat in silence for hours, reading books from the overflowing bookshelves at the beach house.

When we finally turned in at night the roar of the sea sang me to sleep; deep, refreshing sleep.

Of course the weekend ended and I have returned to the existence where I need my watch, and sorely miss it.  But in remembering the weekend, I’m reassured that the experience I recommend for some troubled young people — weeks of backpacking and camping in the wilderness with supportive and therapeutically savvy adults, unplugged from both electronics and society’s demands is — indeed restorative.  And I’m totally enthralled by a current article in the New York Times chronicling the lives of the inhabitants of a tiny Greek island who seem to have remarkable longevity:  they eat well, live simply, drink healthy local teas and wine, stay active, delight in each other… And, the article notes, no one  wears a watch.