I lost my watch a few weeks ago, and I've been late or early ever since. I'm never sure which it's going to be. All in all it hasn't been a bad thing. Oh, I panicked at first. Who wouldn't? It's important to know the time; 1:56 or 2:03, it can make a difference in one's day can't it? I thought so. A watch is a staple in the wardrobe of life. How can you argue about the necessity of something as popular as a watch? Almost everyone owns one of these day-defining icons. They are undeniably useful tools. A watch can help you get to your dentist appointment on time, but do you want to really? Knowing the exact time tells you that you've spent 67 minutes in the grocery store (when you only had 45), but you already knew that groceries come in at right about a hundred dollars an hour. We are bound by time. We bow down to its rules and restrictions. The parameters of the clock create reality as we know it. Time dictates our every move. It defines us. This is true, until you lose your watch. When you are watchless sans watch, naked wristed, without hour nor minute hand, not to mention tick-tockless time loses some of its authority and power. At least it did for me. I found that not knowing the time actually served to decrease my anxiety; 1:56 or 2:03 if you don't know the exact time, you aren't apprehensive about the fact that you are three minutes late for your root canal. Not having a watch to control my every move freed me to my own endeavors. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. But, back to my bare wrist as far as my day-to-day punctuality went, nothing much changed after I lost my watch. I still made a habit of planning to be early, but ended up being late. I can't blame that on my wrist; it obviously has more to do with an innate lack of timing. Besides, not having a watch didn't mean I didn't have access to clocks. Time is everywhere. It is on the table next to my bed. It's on the microwave, coffee maker and stove. It's in my car and on my cell phone. It is at the dentist's office. Lacking a watch didn't mean I was lacking in the a.m./p.m. department. It meant that I didn't have a ticking reminder hanging out conveniently right there at the end of my arm. After two weeks without a watch, I came to believe that wearing time on my wrist was nothing more than a security blanket. It provided the warmth that one gets from something comfortable and familiar. Beyond that, it only added to my daily stress. I can do without stress. So, I figured, why ignore the obvious? Maybe the whole lost watch thing provided me with a well-timed opportunity and I'm not referring to the ability to wear more bracelets. Maybe I didn't need a watch to boss me around. Maybe I was capable of being late on my own. The very next morning after I came to this ingenuous conclusion, I found my lost watch. I was standing in the bathroom, right next to the garbage, when I spotted the familiar round timepiece. I picked it up and knew what I had to do. I held the watch out at arm's length and with a heavy sigh, placed it on my wrist. I was once again handcuffed to the constraints of time. What else could I do? I wasn't going to be dumb enough to throw away a perfectly good watch. It was a few minutes later when I glanced down at the silver sphere on my wrist. I knew it was after nine, and was wondering if it was 9:22 or closer to 9:26. My watch showed neither. It read 12:34, which was clearly wrong. During the time that my watch was lost, the battery had run out. It's been a week and I'm still wearing my watch. It continues to read 12:34. I've found that a battery-less watch is the perfect balance of security blanket and freedom at arm's length. If you ask me for the time, I'll tell you what I see. Who knows, I may even get it right. Because you know what they say: even a broken watch is correct twice each day. Right at this moment, that works for me. Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award winning freelance writer. She appreciates your comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can check out her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.