March 27, 2023

I have worn only three watches in my life. The first one was a gift from my dad; the other two I bought as a gift for myself. The first watch was the most special. It was an elegant Casio with black leather straps; perfect for the thin hands of a child. It was my joy and pride for the first day and the cause of heartbreak the next day. I shattered the watch while sliding down the boulder we smoothened at school. I realized that time the shame of breaking a father’s gift.

The second watch was a cheaper one. I bought it for myself while I was in the university. It was a necessity so I just got the cheapest watch I could find and slapped it on my wrist. Never mind if it looks too big for my bony hands. I was able to use it until I graduated and passed it on to my brother who used it until he graduated too. For me, any watch that can tell time works just fine.

After promising myself not to buy a watch because I was afraid to lose it, I bought another one. I bought one to use at school so I could keep track of the time. It was the first decent watch I bought for myself. It was a silver watch. It was not expensive, but to me it was as valuable. It took me three hours to buy the watch and I had to bring out a decent amount for it. Alas, it took me less than a month to lose it. I was mad at myself. I cannot remember when and where I have lost it. I lost a few thousands of money. I bought the watch thinking of the hopes of a new start in my career only to be reminded of the first time I’ve lost one. The saddest thing is, I lost an item with a sentimental value.

For months, a cloud of annoyance, anger, and shame hung over me. I cannot even look at a watch without feeling guilty of the one I lost. While stuck in the traffic in La Trinidad, Benguet, the passenger across me wore a gleaming golden watch. My mind wandered to the one I had lost and along with it came the guilt and regret of not keeping my things in check. I thought to myself, how many months have I been in a sour mood and consciously tearing my self-esteem over a wristwatch? I realized I have been hugging a cactus tightly and hurting myself in return.

I realized too I needed to learn to let go of my disappointment and perhaps just “learn a lesson worth a few thousand pesos” like what one of my students said. I needed to be kinder to myself even when setting high standards. Then I whispered to myself: Perhaps the very essence of life is to be kind to ourselves.