How accurate is your watch?

So… the clocks go back tonight, and these days I do tend to remember… unlike one year, when I managed to spend the whole day out of synch with the world around me…

First, you’ll need a bit of background to follow this story.

It was sometime in the early 90s. I was living in a small town in Surrey, and attending the main Anglican church there, called St Andrew’s. They had a smaller sister church called St John’s, and evening service was sometimes held there. (In those days I used to get up in the morning and go to the main service – I guess I had more energy when I was younger…)

Oh, and the other detail that is crucial to the story is that the time of evening service was 6.30 for about half the year and 6pm for the other half.

Okay, now that you’ve got all that, sit comfortably and I’ll tell you what happened…

I woke up one Sunday morning in autumn, and thought, oops, I’ve overslept, I can’t make it to church this morning. So I stayed in, I don’t remember what I did all day but it didn’t involve switching on the television or the radio at any point.

Seeing as I’d missed morning service, I decided to go to St John’s in the evening. So off I go to St John’s, but I find the church shut and dark and there’s absolutely no sign of life. Strange, I think to myself, but maybe I made a mistake and it hasn’t changed to 6pm yet? Maybe we’re still on 6.30? Okay, I’ll go for a walk and come back.

So I go for a walk around my little town. I go through the high street and see that the Chinese takeaway is closed, which is strange because I know they open at 5.30pm on Sundays. Then I get to St Andrew’s, the main church, and the church clock is saying the wrong time! I’m beginning to get a weird feeling, like something terrible must have happened locally today and I’m the only one who hasn’t heard.

I go back to St John’s for the 6.30 service but it’s still dark and shut. Now what do I do? Okay, I’ll go home then.

So I head home, and on my way I bump into the two elderly sisters who hold the keys to St John’s. They’re just on their way to open up for the 6pm service.

And so, at what I thought was nearly 6.30pm, I discovered that I’d been an hour out for the whole day.

And what I learned from this for life was how easy it is to walk around being absolutely sure that your watch is right and the church clock is wrong… to be certain that if everyone around me is saying something different, then they’re the ones who have got it wrong…

For some people, though, there’s an opposite lesson – some people, because of the hard knocks they’ve had in life, have such low self-esteem that their immediate assumption would be that they’re wrong and the other people are right. If you’re one of those people, then the lesson I learned is not for you. Because the truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle: we all get some things right and some things wrong.

At that time I was at a stage in my life when I needed to learn humility. This lesson came to my mind a few years later, when God was challenging me to review my thinking on a pretty big issue, and I realised that I had been refusing to accept that others around me may have been right about it whilst I had been wrong.

This hasn’t stopped me from swimming against the tide at times… as those who have been reading my blog know very well… (in fact, there’s one post coming soon…) but I know I’m only human and fallible, and even though I may feel 101% sure about something, I may have missed a point somewhere… I know from experience that there have been plenty of things I have felt 101% sure about but then later changed my mind pretty drastically – so somewhere in the corner of my mind, even as I stand bravely on my soapbox, I know that my watch may be… well… at least a few seconds out…


14 thoughts on “How accurate is your watch?

  1. but if everyone was moving to daylight savings time instead of standard time, you really would have been the only one right whilst everyone else was wrong. ; )why? because daylight savings is man's way of trying to change the natural order of things for their own convenience, but what they really end up doing is creating a heap of mass confusion that no one really understands though many claim to.


  2. Well, I am not sure. I like to think as a group. So, I am tended to accept easily what people say to me. However, I know too that I like to create rules and procedures, most probably because I want others to act just like me. I have a feeling that my rant about Orkut and people not following me here is kinda related with that. I want to believe on others, but many times I want to push them what to believe.So, how accurate is my watch? I need to check with many others first, but only the ones who have the same type of watch as myself.


  3. my watch and the clock in my car are always 5 minutes fast because I hate being late! I once forgot to change the clock – good excuse, I was in England – England is always 1 hour behind the rest of us – and I had already put my clock back one hour when the plane landed so I totally forgot that next change. Turned up an hour early for a meeting (fortunately the hotel had an excellent coffee shop)the clock in my mum's car is so difficult to adjust (even the guy at the garage can't always do it) that for the next 6 months her car will be an hour ahead of her.


  4. actually, I think you've just taken my thoughts one step further…the scenario I described was of me discovering that I had forgotten to adjust my watch so I was out of synch with the world around me. then taking it as a metaphor, I could see that my natural tendency was to assume that the world around me has got it wrong, whilst I'm the one who has got it right. so I needed to learn that actually there are times when it's me who's wrong… and like I said, a few years later God challenged me about an issue where I had assume that others around me had got it wrong but then I found that it was me who had been missing the point…but through your ponderings on the subject of daylight saving time (not that I want to get into that subject right here right now, but it's a good example) what is coming out is another type of scenario, though related: the kind of scenario where there's an issue which you have never questioned, you've just accepted the way everyone around you does things, and then suddenly you find yourself beginning to question and to realise that… oops… it's not right… This is when you have to decide, to weigh up how important the issue is, is this something I can compromise on or am I going to have to opt out, to stick my neck out and open myself to ridicule, misunderstanding, false accusations…yes, it's time to write that post I've been thinking about…


  5. I got a watch that syncs up to the national atomic clock via radio signal every night at midnight. It is always accurate. I haven't had it over a daylight savings change yet, but I think it should change okay. Our time changes this coming weekend.


  6. Yes, you're right. This is another one of your blogs that takes me longer to reply. I had to read a few times before digesting it properly. Certainly not about watches and neither is it about Chinese takeaways, although I do have a craving for a bowl of noodles at the moment.Noodles aside, it must've been really disorienting for you at the time, yes? I mean, waking up and thinking something major might've happened locally. I put myself in your shoes and wondered what my reaction would be. I might've panicked, after trying to wake up from this nightmare.


  7. Pingback: but what if you find that everyone else’s watches are set to the wrong time? | Meirav's Blog Archive

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