Learning to Watch

by Kristen Hartman

September 19, 2018

Learning to Watch

For the fourth time in two weeks I put my watch on upside down this morning. To be fair, it’s a cuff watch, so there’s no fastening mechanism that indicates which direction is correct, yet . . . how distracted am I?

The first time I rolled my eyes and turned it around. The second and third times it was slightly less amusing, but today I’m borderline concerned.

This is one of those mindless but regular rhythms of the day. Right after I put on my glasses, and right before I grab my coffee and slip on my shoes to head out the door, I put on my watch. Six days a week. I don’t have to think about it.

But suddenly I’m doing it ‘wrong’ almost thirty percent of the time. That’s once every three or four days!

It’s just a watch—and I know it isn’t a big deal—but I’m not typically absent-minded. I tend to be a noticer, so if I’m too preoccupied to notice my own watch, it makes me wonder what else I’ve been overlooking.

  • Whom have I walked by without seeing?
  • How many sunsets have I missed?
  • Whose pain have I failed to notice because I’m fixated on my own aches?
  • How many words have I said thoughtlessly?
  • How many words have I left unsaid?
  • When is the last time I paused to listen to the birds?
  • Whose tone or body language slid by unacknowledged in our conversation?
  • What text or email did I mean to send later and never did?
  • When did I last savor a meal?
  • How many prompts of the Spirit have I failed to register, let alone respond to?

Ouch. I can only imagine the answers to those questions, and they’re far from complimentary. My C- average of getting my watch on correctly would probably dip below the threshold of a passing grade in the more consequential areas of noticing.

So, I’m flipping my watch around once again, but this time I’m looking beyond the face on my wrist to the faces around me and remembering that there’s so much more to notice.

Some days a watch is just a timekeeper, but today my watch may just be a barometer for my soul’s attentiveness.

Kristen learned to read an analog watch so she could wear the digital 1984 Sam the Eagle Olympic watch her great-grandma gave her, and she’s been a watch person ever since.


  1. Jenni Key on 09/19/2018 at 4:38 am

    Thank you, Kristen. Seriously. I needed this reminder to slow down . . . to pause and pay attention. I, too, am wondering at all I may be missing by being in such a hurry, trying to multi-task, thinking accomplishment is the be-all and end-all. Lord, help me to breathe deeply . . .

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