My great Uncle John was a watchmaker and jeweler. He was trained at and graduated from the Bulova School of Watchmaking.
As I bounced around his jewelry store at a very young age, pretending I worked there…
And believing the customers actually thought I worked there.
Even though I couldn’t see over the jewelry cases.
I learned a very important life lesson:
“Always set your watch forward, even when you need to go back”. I can hear him saying to me as he spoke through the gate that separated him sitting at his watchmaker’s bench from the actual store.
I can still see him sitting there, watchmaker’s loop in one eye as he carefully repaired the watch of one of his customers who trusted him with its care.
I stopped bouncing around for a minute, stood still and listened to him as he spoke to me, loop still in his eye as he looked my way. “Okay, Uncle John”, I respectfully replied, then resumed my bouncing around.
Always move the arms of a watch or clock forward.
Even when it needs to go back. Even if it only needs to go back an hour, or less.
As I grew up, I realized how much that advice not only pertains to watches and clocks, but it’s how we need to move through our lives.
Time moves forward.
We can’t stop that.
And as we get older, time seems to move even faster.
But the lesson I learned that day was, no matter what happens in our life, moving forward is the only way to ensure we don’t break the mechanisms.
Resist going backward, resist allowing the things in our past to hold us back.
Always move forward.
A watch with broken insides is no longer an effective tool.
I thought of him as I walk around my house changing my clocks yesterday. I think of him often, but always on this day.
And maybe we no longer need to do this, maybe the guts of watches and clocks are different now.
That doesn’t matter to me.
I still go forward, to honor him, his work, and his message that pertains to so much more than the treatment of our timepieces.
Thank you, Uncle John.