As I escape time’s shackles, my watch keeps track of the time on my behalf. In this way, my watch is a fine companion, a trusty sidekick, and a friend.
For over 30 years I’ve ridden motorcycles to quiet my mind. On a really good ride the deep silence of speed engulfs me, the edges of my being dissolve, and linear time gives way to Eternity, The Oneness, The Right Now. Experiencing The Right Now has been one of very few solaces from my rather relentless worrying about the future and regretting the past, both hallmarks of the clinically bummed brain obsessing over linear time.
Clinical research is emerging that supports my thesis that motorcycling – and really any kinetic experience that requires heightened balance and focus – can have measurable mental health benefits. Today we see kinesthetic therapies emerging that favor movement (rather than talking) as a path to downgrading traumas and reducing depression. At age 50, l now consider my misspent youth skiing, skateboarding, cycling, surfing and so on as an effective – perhaps life-saving – self-medication regimen. Without those risky endeavors to delivered me into The Right Now, I’d have likely wound up addicted and dangerously depressed, as too many of my dear friends have.
As such, My Ducati is a mental health machine. Leaning Bianca (my Supersport S) and now Rosie (my Panigale V2) into a turn at “spirited” speeds leaves no room for rumination; the result is a much quieter mind, better chemical balances in the old noggin, and the lasting effects of wiring up new neural pathways. All of this is good for me.
What’s The Watch Got To Do With It?
I adore the philosophical weirdness of experiencing gaps in the flow of linear time while my watch carries on recording how long I’ve been “out there.” My watch and I set off on the same objective journey, but I escape time while my watch does nothing but measure it. By suggesting that my watch has a subjective experience, I’m indulging in anthropomorphism. I don’t believe my watch actually has a consciousness, but I think it all the time. I also talk to my Ducati, Rosebud, with whom I’ve developed a rather sensual relationship. To hide these somewhat embarrassing anthropomorphic thoughts, however, would be to hide what brings my watches to life when I ride.
By anthropomorphizing my watches, I give them personalities, and by giving them personalities I transform them into something truly relatable: imaginary friends. I don’t name my watches, as I do my motorcycles, but I do tend to speak to my watches using nicknames. “What’s up Rollie?” I might mutter while strapping on my Datejust. “Hey Bre Bre,” I’ve said while picking up my Bremont Diver. And I have called my Nomos “Norman” from time to time. It’s really only by assigning my watches human personalities that I come to truly bond with them.
I’ve been assigning consciousness to my watches since I was around 7-years-old and received my Timex Boys Diver. Kids definitely anthropomorphize their toys and other objects, and I did this with my Timex, which accompanied me on long solo outings on Lake Erie where I often (and somewhat purposefully) lost track of time. I talked to the watch. It was my friend and my partner in adventure.
The irony of my childhood Timex is that my father meant for it to help me keep track of time, yet eventually I seemed to lose track of time more easily while wearing the watch precisely because it would do the timekeeping while I blissfully tuned out linear time and indulged The Right Now. I distinctly remember feeling less worried about being home late (and getting grounded) because the watch was keeping track for me, but being less vigilant meant I’d forget to check the watch. Getting me anywhere on time was a hopeless endeavor.
Today, at age 50, I strap on a watch, get on the Ducati, and head out into The Right Now just as I did as a kid. I leave worry and regret behind as I unite my body and mind to navigate twisting roads at spirited speeds. As I exit time’s shackles, my watch keeps track of the time on my behalf. In this way, my watch is a fine companion, a trusty sidekick, and a friend. At the end of a spirited ride, I feel that I, Bianca, and my watch have buzz-cuddled on oxytocin, blissed-out on delayed serotonin and dopamine re-uptake, and enjoyed the rush and flush of adrenaline. We stand tall after our rides, refreshed, clear-headed, and ready for life.
Whatever The Opposite of Nostalgia Is
My bond with my watch while motorcycling is not forged through nostalgic memory-making but through repeated indulgences of The Right Now. It’s entirely an inward experience, psychedelic even. Riding has become so subjective, so personal, that I have come to believe that the machines that accompany me on these risk-taking adventures are the only ones who can truly know what I experience on the bike. I trust my Ducati to get me through the corners with elan, and I trust my watch to take care of linear time for me while I get swept into The Right Now and reap the ensuing mental health benefits of racing down a twisty road. This is how I bond with my watches, as partners in adventures that quite literally maintain my sanity.