Thursday, February 13, 2014

Broken Watch

Look at your watch. It’s broken. Do you remember that summer night? A group you weren't part of, a world right next to your own but so different and apart that you couldn't possibly understand how the people inside it worked.

It was late, maybe midnight. You can’t know what time it is now. There was a thunderstorm, and a tornado watch—or a warning? What’s the difference?—and someone suggested a game of capture the flag. It was a stranger. They were all strangers. But you joined them, cast off your rationality for one night of mindlessness, because it felt nice, and because it seemed the thing to do at the time.

What time is it? You don’t know, the watch’s face is blank. All their faces were sort of blank, because they didn't know much, just the safe little world they’d grown up in, with themselves and no one else. No one strayed, no one questioned, no one forced truths upon them and made them see that the world was big, and not always comfortable.

You are sitting uncomfortably because you don’t know how long you've been sitting, or how much longer you’ll be required to. It’s not the sitting itself that’s uncomfortable; it’s the not knowing.

You've always been uncomfortable with any lack of knowledge. That’s why they were such a wonder to you. They were satisfied with ignorance, and though it made you angry, you envied them. They could come home and run around in the rain and laugh and drink, and wake up the next morning and kiss their mothers goodbye and get on a plane to some distant desert and stalk the day with a gun in their hands and a fire in their hearts. They could do it all and know that they were protected, even in death, by something greater than themselves. You envied them because they knew a love you had never known, and you were sure it didn't exist but that didn't make it feel any less absent. You always find yourself burdened by absences, whether it’s the absence of faith or of the time of day.

You sit here wondering what time it is. Maybe that knowledge would give you relief, or at least answer some of your questions, Yet you also sort of wish that you’d never had a concept of time at all, because then you wouldn't worry that you were missing something. Is a hole that’s never been filled really a hole? If a watch didn't work in the first place, can you still call it broken? And you begin to realize that maybe this crisis is about more than just a broken watch.

Ariel A.
Washington, DC

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