The Gift of an Old Thing

What is your favorite old thing? Mine is a watch that belonged to my father. He always wore this watch, and now it stays set on 12:20 which was his birthday. I love to wear it on special occasions.

That old air conditioner at our old building was giving out. All the nurses and aides had to commute to our sister building—the new building. I stood next to the young girl and helped buckle our patients onto the van for our commute. I don’t like to compare myself to others, but there I found myself in a weak moment. I glanced at her hand with a fresh set of baby pink nails and an Apple Watch with rose gold details. I then glanced at my hand—bare nails and a plain, old digital watch that did virtually nothing except tell time.

What’s the first thing you notice about a Bible? For me, it’s the amount of wear it has. I often think to myself that mine doesn’t look as worn as it should. I long to be a little old lady one day with an old, worn Bible that shows how much it’s been used. I’m sure, in fact, I am 100% positive, I will be glad that I didn’t replace my old, worn Bible for a shiny, new Bible.

I say all of this not to put shame on people for buying nice, new things from time to time, but simply to show the value that an old thing has.

It’s a gift to be able to see some wear, some “love” on things; it gives them character! It’s a gift to be able to make good use of things and then have an appreciation for what it’s been through. It’s a gift to not buy into fads, trends, and competition, comparison. It’s a gift to not live above and beyond your means, only buying what you can afford, owing no man nothing but to love him. It’s a gift to be able to make good use of something for an extended amount of time, realizing it’s because you take good care of things.

I made a decision: I was going to go shopping that weekend. I was going to paint my nails, and I was going to go buy an Apple Watch. That Saturday morning, I finalized the purchase and made my way to the store to pick it up. As I drove, I began to imagine all the things I would be able to do with my new watch, how convenient it would be, and how good it would look on me. I then began to think about getting texts, e-mails, notifications, and updates all at the flick of my wrist. I had a brief thought—that might get, well, kind of annoying. I shrugged off the thought, because I knew I wanted a new watch. Sometimes, God speaks through those fleeting thoughts we quickly and impulsively brush aside.

The moment I set foot into the store, I realized I had made a mistake and refunded my purchase. What is this watch but a smaller version of my phone? And what is a tablet, for that matter, but a larger version of a phone! I don’t want a tablet nor do I want a smartwatch. I am that person who has a phone that lives on silent and constantly places the phone face down in order to focus on things without interruption. I don’t want some new gadget to compete with God for my time and energy. I don’t want another device to charge that will soon need replacing, another piece of technology to push me further out of the moment, out of the “now”.

Sometimes, I look outside my window at the little old lady that lives next door. She moves so slowly, so peacefully. She comes from a time before the world got complicated—before smartphones and smartwatches, before social media and the internet. I’ve wondered at times what she’s thinking, only to realize, she’s probably not thinking about anything at all; she’s experiencing the world around her—the sun on her skin, the flowers in bloom; she’s living.

That Sunday, I painted my nails. I think I will do that more often. I opened my work bag and pulled out my work watch—my old, basic, digital watch—and I placed it on my wrist to see how it looked with my fresh nails. “Perfect.” I thought.

“Millie and Maw-Maw” 7/2017 (an entry from my dream journal)
Maw-Maw is riding with me in a golf cart through the woods. We spend the day exploring and talking like two best friends without a single care in the world. I don’t know exactly where I am, but I know I am home. Maw-Maw sighs and says “Oh, how I would love to be young again.” I reply, “I can’t wait to be old.”

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