• Matthew Kaufman

Analog vs Digital: Time

I’m sitting at my desk, wondering what I should with the rest of my night. I’ve decided I’m done playing video games for a bit and disconnected from any voice chats I’m on. I shut my computer off because I’ve been on it for about fifteen hours straight and I need a break. My room goes quiet as there’s no sound anywhere else in my house. The feeling of isolation as I realize I haven’t left the house in four days sets in. As anxiety about my social situation, about work situations from that day, and from everything else begins to set in, I hear a gentle sound.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

I calm back down and my anxiety eases a bit.

The time, place, and day is different. It’s earlier in my career. I’m going for my interview for a job I really want and need to get. It’ll be my first full time full stack developer position at a local company. I’m in their on site conference room and have just gone through two different multi hour panels of interviews. The last panel didn’t go the greatest and while I think I did well enough on the technical portions, I also had to admit to the interviews that there were questions they asked that I didn’t have answers to. Unease about whether I’m really cut out for this kind of profession or if I’m really going to be able to find a job creeps into my psyche. The next panel of interviewers are going to be coming in about five minutes and I’m almost starting to wonder if my entire life path has been wrong for the past six or seven years. Then, from my suit jacket pocket, comes the unchanging reminder.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

These are two of many times that I have been rescued by the sound of a watch. I’ve talked before about my fondness about analog devices in the face of digital options, but this case is a bit more personal. You see, some time ago I came into possession of a rather nice water resistant digital diving wrist watch. Yet, the only time I’ll wear it is when I’m at home or if I’m in an already comfortable situation. In all other cases, I reach for one of my two trusty pocket watches.

Now, I understand that pocket watches are not everyone’s style and forte. In a lot of ways, it’s not really mine either. I’m not some overly classy gentleman nor am I an old time train conductor. Rather, my fascination with pocket watches comes from a more pure reason. Every second of my life is accompanied by a tick from one of these watches. So long as I’m keeping them properly maintained, they don’t ever stop ticking away. Unlike their digital compatriots, they quietly but constantly remind you that each second is passing and that might be one of the most comforting and haunting sounds I can think of.

When I was in that job interview and starting to panic, I heard the ticking of my pocket watch. I took it out and listened to it for just a few seconds. The rhythmic consistency helped calm down while I reminded myself that life would go on. That time would continue to move forward. I was able to resolve myself that even if I didn’t get the job offer, that even if I wasn’t cut out for software engineering, that no matter what, time will continue to march on. Tomorrow would always come and even if today went awfully and I found out I had wasted so many yesterdays, tomorrow would still come.

The unending march of time is oft described as a thing of horror... but it is also a comfort to many creatures. Yes, it can be haunting, can remind you that the paper you were supposed to write has a due date that is creeping ever closer. But it can also remind you that things will not remain as they are. No matter what you do, the future will come. Moreover, since the future is as of yet undetermined, you can still do things now to change it as well.

A digital watch may be more convenient to read some times. It also may be more stylish and wouldn’t draw as many weird looks from peers, friends, and the like. But it is the pure ceaseless ticking of a regular analog watch that reminds us tomorrow will always come. That tomorrow is undetermined. That whatever happened a few seconds ago is now in the past and while we can dwell on the past, our energy is better spent working towards the still mutable future. You may have procrastinated any number of things in your life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do them now or work towards doing them soon. The endless march of time remains well and alive with sounds of an analog watch and to use a quote from one of my shows of all time, Code Geass, “Please don’t stop the march of time.”

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