Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Cars, watches, and momentum.  §

I miss my old car. How I miss my old car and am annoyed with my wife of the time for forcing the issue to sell it. It needed a heater blower and a new sunroof seal. That was it—but she hated it.

Thing is, I bought it at 133k miles for almost nothing. It looked and drove as new. Over the space of 15 years, it was incredibly reliable and almost nothing had to be fixed. It always started. It always drove. It never felt uncertain.

When we sold it, it was at 250k and the engine still ran as smooth as silk. The body and interior weren’t falling apart. The worst thing was the paint job—too many days spent outdoors in the ice during wintertime. It was sold for $615.00 to a student in New York. I’d pay $1,000.00 to get it back now.

That’s how hungry I am for a reliable car. I’m at 150k and the car is in far worse shape mechanically than the car we sold in 2010 at 250k. The current car is held together by duct tape and bubblegum, and keeps eating money at $hundreds a pop every other month.

Change will have to come soon. Somehow.

— § —

The thing about watches. And about why I don’t like straight quartz. Here’s the reason. Automatics (powered by your movement) and Eco-Drives (powered by the sun) derive their energy from the environment on an ongoing basis. Every moment that you wear these watches, your activity, your context, and the events that surround you power them.

Put a quartz watch with a new battery in a drawer and forget about it and it will still be running five years after anyone last touched or saw it. Wear a quartz watch with an old battery and it may die on you in the middle of the day despite the fact that you are still in the thick of things.

In other words, the time that quartz watches keep is abstract, mathematical, disconnected from the world that you yourself are living in. You and the watch are inhabiting different universes; a quartz watch lives in its own objective, isolated context, not directly related to anything that you do.

Automatic and to a slightly lesser extent Eco-Drive watches live with you, through you. Their timekeeping is intimately connected to the moment-by-moment movements and situations in your life. They inhabit the same time that you do—real time, the time of events and workdays and trips to the store. They do not live in a pure, theoretical space in which there is no material reality around them. Quartz watches keep time no matter what happens. For some, that might be a selling point. For me, it isn’t. To me, it feels as though they simulate time, rather than mark the passage of it.

If a giant meteor hit the earth tomorrow, filled the air with unbreathable soot, blotted out the sun, and took all life with it, quartz watches would still populate the earth and millions of them would still be rolling along five or eight years later, keeping perfect time beyond the end of the world. That’s just too much. It’s oppressive.

On the other hand, if the world ended tomorrow for all of the life forms on it, automatics would mark the end of time by stopping the day after tomorrow, just 20-40 hours later. Not a single one would be ticking a week later. Eco-drives—apart from the few whose owners happened to die outside in the sunlight—would go into hibernation (“pause” themselves in power-saving mode due to lack of sunlight) within a few weeks, and would never tick again.

The same goes true for when an owner dies and watches end up in storage as the funeral occurs and life goes on—the automatics stop within a day of the wearer’s life ending, and the Eco-Drives within a few weeks. The quartz watches? They don’t need you. Their purpose is ordained by God and they continue no matter what; their deaths are disconnected from human life or death entirely.

Both automatics and eco-drives have that additional, embodied timekeeping capability—they have the ability to mark the end of time, to indicate and memorialize death and mortality, at whatever the scale. They are sensitive to the importance of the lives of their wearers. Somehow, to me, that is the most important function in a watch that I wear on my body, that becomes a part of me. So long as the watch is on my wrist is ticking, I want to know that I am alive and the world has not ended yet. And when I die, I want my watch, intimate partner that it is, to mourn and commemorate my departure from life and refuse to go on without me.

With quartz, I don’t get that reassurance. And that makes all the difference.

— § —

I struggled to stay awake all day and promised myself that the moment the kids were asleep, I would be, too.

Now, it’s 11:40 and I’m sitting here still typing, despite the fact that the kids have been asleep for hours.

— § —

It isn’t easy to tell whether or not you’re lying to yourself. Everyone acts as though deep down, you know. In fact, you generally don’t. Your subconscious isn’t that considerate.

— § —

Though I’ve slowed the descent, I am still losing momentum. The slow drip of disappearing mojo continues. It must stop.

I have huge internal resistance to starting at the bottom of the hill and pushing the boulder upward for the long haul yet again. Huge internal resistance.

There is a large part of me that wants to just throw my hands up and forget about it. To say “this is what I am today and it’s all that I’ll ever be or do, and whatever happens will happen.”

I mustn’t allow that to stick. I need to remember the Pete Carroll quote that I put up here a day or three (or is it a week or three) ago.

I must always be willing to fight the fight. I cannot allow myself to let myself down. I have to be able to live with what I’ve made of all this on the day that I die. I don’t want to face myself and realize that I was just lazy, especially when it counted.

Work to be done.

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