by tobias crabtree
I wear a watch, it’s not a smart phone or anything, just a watch. It’s perfectly dependable, it doesn’t try and guess what I’m gonna say and it doesn’t even have an alarm. My watch doesn’t care if I’m late or not, it’s indifferent to whether I think time is important. My watch speaks analogue, not digital, and it can be submerged in water down as far as I ever need to go. Every month, without fail, my watch counts out 31 days. It doesn’t care that months are set up with different endings. I imagine it thinking, “Yeah, well why don’t you just reset me then, you’re the one with thumbs.” It keeps ticking because it’s on my wrist, winding as I gesticulate wildly about inconsequential baloney. Sometimes, because I take my watch off and leave it sitting for too long, it stops. When I put it back on, it begins to tick but the time is not present. It’s almost like it’s telling me the exact amount of minutes that I forgot about it. I really don’t mind the time being wrong, I wear it for nostalgic purposes anyway. Plus, I like the inner workings of a watch. All those tiny gears. The clickings and turnings. Have you ever seen one of those tiny, transparent shrimp in a lit up fish tank? If you get up close and look, you can see inside. There in the microwonderworld you can see the fluttering heart and the churning fluids of perfection. Maybe that’s why I love the inside of a watch — it’s a beautiful imitation of something perfect, like a model reminder of the things that have hearts that thump because they were born from other hearts. The cosmic wilderness keeps such mysteries under wraps. Our sciences poke around while the universe looks on with a sly, curly smile; somethings don’t need to be known.
But what I really wanted to say before I got side-tracked, is that I love the way my watch communicates with me. It’s as honest as the spinning hands on the front. If the time is not present, it makes no excuses. It just continues to do it’s work. Children are a bit like that, like when they’re real little, in that age between first words and when they begin to grasp their identity. There’s always a little manipulation I guess, but even that is transparent to me. I understand why a child cries over a bottle, or a thing wanted but not gotten. It’s honest. They’re simply expressing desire and they aren’t worried about being selfish or wrong. It’s like this: I want that, and not getting it makes me sorrowful, so now I will shed giant tears and howl from the depths of my soul. That is awesome, man. I kinda want to do that, I just don’t have the guts. If I did it around most of my buddies they’d slap me in the mouth and tell me to get it together.
I don’t know what the study was called, but I recently read about how kids before a certain age don’t have a grasp on quantity. It’s in that stage where they’re learning about amounts and distribution. Like Brian and Summer’s little guy, Cannon. I took a little chip from his bowl and he gave me a stern look. So I said, Sorry buddy, can I snag one of those chips from you? His little brow unfurled. There were two chips left in the bowl. A little chip and a great big one. He handed me the big one. It all made me laugh. He knew he wanted control over the chips, but that was all. Once he had the run of the place, he was like, “meh, whatev’s, have a fat chip, tobias.” I like this kinda communication. It’s right now. It’s real. It’s not backed by hidden agendas or secret prejudices. It’s not shouted through a microphone or written in fancy fonts.
There’s this old saying that my buddy Roger Sparks used to quote, I think it’s from some old monk who died thousands of years ago. It goes something like, the student is present when the teacher is in. I understand it in my own monkey way — when I go to teach, I should be open to being taught. So, when I’m down and chatting up some little 6 year old, maybe that’s when I’m the closest to the secrets of the stars. Listen up, Tobias, don’t forget to not know it all.