The Passing Of Moments

“Why do you bite the table?” I had to ask.

“It keeps my head steady, let my eyes focus properly and allows my hands to remain still.”

He was my teacher. I was his apprentice. And we are watchmakers.

What best then to challenge yourself to the craft of watch making? A feat of engineering, few could learn and fewer still could master. It was a dying trade, and I needed a challenge.

So I find myself learning my trade in Japan.

Switzerland is known for its watch-smiths but it is Japan that gives the Swiss the shivers each time innovation is needed in horology.

It was the Japanese who introduced quartz technology, it was the Japanese who introduced
factory manufacturing of timepieces to the masses and also the Japanese who introduced
shock resistant and waterproofing into the annals of watch construction.

And even though watch companies have turned to mass production of time-pieces, there are a select few that choose to ply their craft the traditional way – with steady hands and keen eyes.

It was late afternoon, and as I was cleaning; I caught Sensei sitting by the veranda of the
modest apartment that served as his workshop. The afternoon light caught the grey in his hair and colored the years upon his face.

“Sensei, is everything alright?”

“Everything is fine,” and he chuckled.

I was curious, what could be funny about the hazy Tokyo skyline on a lazy afternoon?

Setting the broom aside, I pulled a stool and sat next to him.

“You want some lemonade?” I asked, pointing to the pitcher sitting lonely on the kitchen table.

“I am not thirsty.”

We sat silent, and time ticked on by.

“People are funny.”

“Come again, I do not understand. Sensei?”

“People are funny. We create this thing called time. And we say we have no time. But time
does not exist. Nature did not create time, we did. Humans did. We divided the movement of the sun, the turning of the earth into hours and minutes and seconds and called it time.”

“So we are the creators of time?” I realized the truth in his words.

“Yes, we created a construct, only to enslave ourselves in it. We are slaves to our creation
called time. We created a guillotine and stuck our own heads through it, and complain that we will lose our heads.”

“That’s kind of funny.” I laughed at the image in my mind. “Then time is what we make of it. We do not have less time or more time. We have just enough. The comedy of our work is that we give people the illusion of time control.”

“Yes, time is what you make of it. We have enough. The universe has given us enough to work with.”

“Then Sensei, if it is not time then what is it? Say we don’t call it time, we must give it a name or a phrase or something to call it.”

“Let’s just call it ‘the passing of moments’.” He smiled and looked at me. “Lemonade?”

I smiled back, got up and walked towards the kitchen.

We sat there that day till the sun set, sipping on lemonade and relishing our moments. We
made watches that gave people confidence that they were able to control this construct called time.

But we both knew, that the control was an illusion. Time did not exist. It was all a label created by mankind.

Instead, moments exist. And it was with moments that the universe ticked by. Now, isn’t that funny?



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