Time, Take Two

The last time I can remember taking off my watch for an extended period of time was in December 2004. While attending an Introduction to Anusara Yoga weekend retreat at Kripalu, I decided to mark my visit—the third—by doing something different.  I glanced at my watch, which I put on every morning and take off every night like a ritual, and realized that removing it for the 48 hours seemed symbolic. By not knowing the time, I could tune out the outer world and turn inward. I could be present.

Almost eight years have passed, and I am once again watch-less. This time, however, it is not by choice.

On August 18, upon arriving at le Polyclinique de St. Jean de Luz, a modest, two-story “hospital” in the southwest corner of France, I removed my watch to prepare for surgery, handing it, along with my wedding ring and earrings, to Philippe for safekeeping.

I had no idea, then, that my road to recovery would be so challenging, requiring a second surgery to correct the first and seven and a half weeks of almost complete immobility of my right hand. There was no way my semi-free fingers could maneuver the clasp of my watch on my left wrist, making it impossible to wear.

At home in Raanana, I placed my watch on my nightstand. That way, at least, I could glance at it when I woke up and before I went to bed. It stayed there for days, which slowly turned into weeks, neglected but ticking. Whenever I was out and about and in search of the time, I would check my cellphone. When teaching, I would surreptitiously peek at students’ watches.

But as time passed, I noticed that my need to know the time was fading. Aside from a few morning yoga classes, I oftentimes didn’t have an agenda. Occasionally, some friends made plans to visit, while others took me out to run errands, but overall, I spent a great deal of my time at home, alone, resting, reading, writing and watching movies. My recuperation meant letting go of having to be somewhere and do something at a certain time in a certain place. For me, the only thing pressing in the past two months was healing.

As family time keeper—the only one of five who wears a watch—the kids are used to being able to ask me the time. “I have no idea” or “You tell me,” I found myself saying. Sometimes, I would hold out my forearms and say, “A freckle past a hair as Grandma would say.” Not only did I lose track of time but also of the day of the week and date. August turned into September into October. The month-long Jewish holidays came and went, and I marked them only in relation to October 9, when I would be removing the pins and cast.

Almost two weeks have now passed since my cast and pins were removed, and my wrist and arm and fingers are feeling a little bit stronger every day. I can hold a pen and write semi-legibly. I can cut a soft tomato. I can hold and drink a cup of water with my right hand.

As my strength and mobility increase, my days and plans are filling up too. Aside from teaching yoga in the morning, I go to physical therapy and occupational therapy several afternoons a week. Today, I began teaching a seven-week Creative Nonfiction course at my dining room table.

Not knowing the time and not having a schedule for the past two plus months wasn’t all that bad. Freed from the daily grind, I had no choice but to slow down and rest and enjoy the small stuff. With time on my hands, I was uber aware of what I could and could not do because of my hand, where I was in relation to people (walking on their left), how my body felt from head to toe.

My fine motor skills are good enough to fasten my watch. Maybe, soon, I’ll pluck it off my nightstand and put it back on.

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13 Responses to “Time, Take Two”

  1. Doris Fankhauser October 22, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    Seems that you are back to typing as well! Thanks for writing again, I missed your stories!
    Hope your wrist is getting stronger every day!

    • Jennifer Lang October 23, 2012 at 6:34 am #

      I am back to typing, and I am glad too. Thanks! What’s news on your end?

  2. Zondra Barricks October 23, 2012 at 3:14 am #

    Yittle by Yittle by Yittle…..so glad you’re making good progress. XOXOXZ

    • Jennifer Lang October 23, 2012 at 6:35 am #

      Love the Y! xo

  3. Jill October 23, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Welcome back to blogging! So glad you are back!
    Loved this column and would love to see a
    National leave your watch at home day!
    Sounds like you are making progress everyday
    See you soon

    • Jennifer Lang October 23, 2012 at 11:07 am #

      It feels great to be back, to have a feeling of a schedule and a life. Leat, leat as we say here, slowly, slowly. xo

  4. auntie mona October 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    Love the idea of the freedom of not wearing a watch; but also love my watch collection; a dilemma!!!

    Glad you are getting your groove back, one step and day at a time (pun intended, sort of….)
    Auntie Em

    • Jennifer Lang October 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      That is a dilemma indeed! I have now been with my watch for a few days though and am so happy to know the time. It’s so easy to just glance. No one sees. xo

  5. Jade October 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    I’m so glad to see you’re well on your way to recovery!

    Also, thanks for the tip on the imaginary third leg. I am using it; it works surprisingly well! With this technique, perhaps you can find your inner third arm and attempt crow…


    • Jennifer Lang October 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      Would I love an inner third wrist! I don’t know wehn I’ll be able to extend and put that wrist on the floor. Am dying for a good old down dog! Bisous back at you

  6. nina October 24, 2012 at 12:56 am #

    YEAH – all good news with you…….today I should write of the color of the leaves….the maples are golden yellow and tipped with fire red; they wave against a sea of green still, but the oaks have had it tough this summer and those leaves are brown and falling; the varying shades of orange are densities of a bright horizon, reds making a sweep across the hills from where I look out from my office window….what are really really pretty are the bushes that turn a multitude of pale reds and pinks as the branches lope down to the ground – now those are fine and gentle to see…I can never grow those bushes – they require lots of sun…how they play out in the fall is magnificent and makes me envious each year…..keep up your health…my husband is walking without crutches as of yesterday…I hope he has a recovery like yours…..

    • Jennifer Lang October 29, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

      Please tell your husband to walk slowly and pay attention to each step. Every time I go to OT and PT they ask me what “new” things I am able to do. This week is driving. Yeah. Thanks for the colors. xo

  7. Mom/Grandma Marianne October 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Mom just realized she never read this! I so enjoy the way you see the glass half full in all of this and everything else in y our life here in Israel. And yes, we all rely too much on time!!!
    love, Mom

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