Watches Hold the Key to Why Preserving Memories is Important
On the second anniversary of my dad’s death, I find myself thinking about him and preserving memories we shared. His collection of watches brings me comfort, and I’m reminded of some of the stories they hold and why memories are important.
Watches, clocks and other timepieces have been around for centuries. From pocket watches to wristwatches, these objects serve a practical purpose — to tell time — but they can also hold significant meaning and sentimental value. Each timepiece can tell a story, whether it’s the story of its creation, its journey through time, or the past memories and experiences it’s been a part of.
The stories that timepieces hold are not just limited to their owners. They can also reflect the times in which they were created. For example, pocket watches were a popular accessory during the 19th century, while wristwatches became more prevalent during World War I when soldiers needed a practical way to keep track of time. Now, we tend to use our watches to monitor our well-being or use our cell phones as our watches.
Each timepiece is a snapshot of the era in which it was made, a link to past events. But one thing never changed, we always measured and kept track of time.
One person who understood the importance of timepieces was my father, Samuel Ramler Z”l. He had a fascination with watches. After he passed away in July 2021, I found myself drawn to the collection of watches he had kept in his nightstand. Each timepiece helps tell his life story.
How one collection can showcase why memories matter
I remember my father wearing his watch even when bedbound during his nine months in hospice. Despite being disoriented and the thinness of his skin and the discomfort it caused, he never wanted to take it off. I asked him why he loved watches so much and why it was so essential for him to always have his watch.
“My watch always reminds me where I came from and where I’m going,” he explained.
This sentiment speaks to the power of timepieces. They can hold past memories and inspire contemplation about the future.
By sharing his insightful appreciation for watches, my dad reminded me of a principle I use while coaching my clients. Understanding where we come from is an important step toward understanding where we are headed. By reflecting on our personal histories and the events that have shaped us, we can gain a deeper appreciation for our values and beliefs. Revisiting memories with appreciation can help us make informed decisions about our personal and professional goals.
How preserving memories convey valuable lessons
Thanks to my dad, I gained an appreciation for watches — or any device that measures time. Among other things, watches can teach us several valuable lessons:
Watches can remind us of the importance of time and the finite nature of our existence. Each passing second is an opportunity that can never be regained. We must make the most of our time and prioritize what truly matters, both for ourselves and for our vision of future generations.
Watches can teach us about the importance of punctuality and the value of being reliable. Being on time shows respect for others.
Watches can teach us about the importance of balance in everyday life. A watch has many different components that work together to keep time accurately. If one part is off, the whole system can be thrown out of balance. Similarly, in our lives, we need to strive for balance in the present moment between work, rest and play, as well as between our different priorities and responsibilities.
Watches can remind us about the importance of setting goals and measuring progress. A watch is essentially a tool for measuring time. It can act as a gateway for setting goals for ourselves and tracking our progress. We can use time to our advantage and achieve great things.
Watches can teach us about the value of consistency. We can develop good habits and stay organized by adhering to a schedule.
Watches can remind us of the beauty of precision and accuracy. A well-made watch is a marvel of precision engineering. It can inspire us to strive for accuracy and attention to detail in our work and pursuits.
Watches can teach us about the power of legacy and inheritance. A high-quality watch can last generations and be passed down as a cherished family heirloom — like my dad’s watches. By treasuring and preserving such objects, we can connect to our ancestors and build a sense of continuity and tradition within our families.
Why memories are important to help us share our values
Looking back, I realize that my father’s love for watches reflected his love for life. He understood that time was precious and that every moment counted. Each watch in his collection held a story and reminded him of the people and past experiences that had shaped his life, but also that there is more to keep shaping, and we are constantly being shaped…
Time is a concept that’s both fleeting and enduring. We can’t hold onto it, yet it leaves an indelible mark on our lives. Memories, too, are fleeting, yet memories shape who we are and how we see the world.
I often think about the words of my dear Rabbi and mentor, Rabbi Steve Sager Z’l, who explained that death is the reverse process of birth. How he described the process of death, and the waves of sadness that come with it, resonated with me. Time and frequency play a crucial role in both birth and death. During childbirth, contractions become more frequent and intense until the baby is finally born. While as time goes on, when grieving a death, the waves of sadness gradually become more spaced out and less intense.
While the pain of losing someone never truly goes away, time can help us learn to cope with the loss and find peace. It’s a gradual process of healing and acceptance unique to each individual. Ultimately, time can be a great comfort and source of strength during grief and loss.
As I look at my father’s collection of watches now, I’m reminded that each one is a testament to his life and the legacy he left behind. They’re more than just timepieces; they’re a symbol of his love, his values and his spirit.
Some things are timeless, like the love I feel for my dad, who shaped me and helped me understand where I’m going.
He is the watch on my wrist.