Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Gift of Time

"Time is relentless. Only true love perseveres." -Billy Joel, Two Thousand Years

Christmas came early for me this year. I got a gift – one of the coolest gifts ever – a couple of weeks before Christmas. And since I’ve decided to dedicate an entire post to a material object, let me be clear: this is not a product review. I don’t do those. I just really love this gift. And in opening that little brown box, I was reminded of the significance of this particular gift, and why it means so much to me.

My Director bought me this gift more than four years ago, and not for Christmas. It just recently arrived after I had sent it away to get repaired..

It does not take me 11 hours
to run 1 3/4 miles
It's my running watch. But not just any running watch. A Garmin Forerunner complete with GPS, distance tracking, and a running buddy feature where you can race a virtual "friend." We named my running buddy "Steve," for no reason in particular.

I'd been without my watch, and my running buddy, for almost four months. It just conked out while I was on a run at the beach over the summer. Started blinking wildly, wouldn't turn off. Then when I finally managed to turn it off, it wouldn't turn back on unless it was on its charging dock. Pointless.

I went through the normal stages of grief. First: denial. I didn’t want to deal with the possibility that I had to buy a new one. Then: anger. I was angry that this very special, very useful, very expensive gift was broken. Then: acceptance. I went to my local running store to price out new ones. And in doing so, I learned that Garmin refurbishes old broken watches, for a small fee. Score.

So nearly four months later I overcame my procrastination and sent the watch to get fixed. It cost me $65 when a new one would have been more than $300. It arrived two weeks later.

What took me so long? I let all that time go by. Sure, I was busy. There was a lot of other, more important stuff going on. And I managed to run without it by adding up the time of the songs in my playlist and mapping my route accordingly. But still… four months is an eternity. And it went by so quickly. Summer ended. Fall came and went. Halloween. Thanksgiving. We just celebrated Christmas.

I am becoming increasingly aware of time, and its passage, whether it’s missing a relative who’s gone, or realizing the ones who are here won’t be here forever. How truly precious time is.

When I opened that little brown box to find my watch, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, wrapped up and ready to run again, it was like seeing an old friend you hadn't seen or spoken to in months. And then, just like that, it's as if you saw each other yesterday with the inside jokes and old stories. I proceeded to go for a run and became mortified at my slower than usual time. Is this thing still broken?
Me and my watch at mile 8 of
the NJ half-marathon in May

This watch has been with me through countless runs, including both of my half-marathons. Running is my therapy. I do it to get away for forty-five minutes of solitude. And even though I'm running for a temporary escape, I take My Director and the Peanut with me on every run, mentally and symbolically. I'd be lost without them.

The biggest reason this watch means so much to me? It's the gift My Director gave me for my first Father's Day. More than four years ago. Time.

Christmas came early for me this year. A special gift came back to me, to remind me that time, with and without them, truly is precious.


  1. Time is very precious. That's why we really have to cherish the time we do have and be picky about the things we spend our time doing and the people we share our time with.

  2. Gifts don't always have to be something brand new and shiny to make the recipient happy. I bet it was a relief to get it back in your hands after that long layoff.

    The other thing that this piece made me think of is how few companies offer good customer service anymore. Most easily ignore you once your warranty ends (HP, cough cough) and implore you to buy a new one. It would be better for their bottom line, but companies like the one you mentioned stick with you and earn customers for life.

    JJ – The Dude of the House
    Twitter: @DudeOfTheHouse

    Check out my new blog post: All I Want for Christmas is Jews.

  3. So true, Dude. Garmin had me for life before. And after this, I have no problem singing their praises for free. Once when I called them with a software problem while updating my watch, the guy didn't have the answer. So he said, "I'll google it." He did, and he found the answer that solved my problem. I thought that was awesome. Garmin = A+ in my book.

  4. That was an awesome reminder of how quickly things "run" by us in our lives. It reminded me of when we put up the same ornaments every year. Who cares if the fancy glass ones break? I always protect the ones that my kids have made in years past.

    Those "handmade" gifts for the family tree, take me back to the years when the kids created them. Like an old super 8 movie playing in my head, I see my children when they are younger and remember all those first moments, like you do when it came to your first father's day.

    Happy New Year!

  5. Ug running. Looks exhausting! I'm sorry about your watch. It would take *me* that long to run that far. For sure.

    For Love of Cupcakes


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