By John W. Vander Velden
Is it like clockwork or like clockworks? There is a difference. But before I go into semantics how about a bit of basics. Before the age of electronic timekeepers that have no, that’s right, no moving parts, all clocks and watches were intricate devices driven by springs or motors and controlled by balance wheels or pendulums. The hands, remember those, moved slowly around the face linked to gears and more gears. Those springs, balance wheels, and gears were known as clockworks, or in essence the mechanism that made keeping accurate time possible.
Those clockworks had been perfected by centuries of the building of clocks. Jackie and I love to visit “Clock Stores” to see the massive grandfather and grandmother clocks. I’m a gear kinda’ guy, so I stare at the beautiful, at least I think they’re beautiful, gears, all brass and shiny hiding beneath the grand face. I examine them though the side glass. Most move so slowly that you can not begin to perceive motion. But the pendulum swings tripping the cog that holds back the gleaming weights that drop ever so slightly with each sway. Amazing basic mechanics! There is nothing but a vibrating quartz crystal, a battery, a microscopic silicone chip, and a display in today’s watches for example. But the quartz watch is more accurate. It requires less care and no thought. The time is right there on your wrist, providing the battery holds up. Having the correct time is what matters, isn’t it?
Maybe. But something is missing, at least I feel something is missing. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to wear a windup tickity-tick on my wrist. I can’t sleep with one of those windup alarm clocks of ages gone by. I know, I tried. Tick-tick-tick in the dark drives this guy crazy. But I am enthralled by the solid “real”, apparently complex, gear meshing with gear meshing with gear mechanism that make those grand clocks work.
But there is the other form…like clockwork. A symbolic phase about how things just fall into place or proceed exactly in the manner they should. Such as B follows smoothly after A and C comes precisely after B kinda’ thing. I don’t know how your life goes but mine…well, clockwork does not describe my normal day to day. But it is the glitches in the mechanism that forces us to find new solutions, and we learn more about ourselves in the process.
So whether we are talking about the stuff that make up mechanical timepiece innards or the smooth procession of actions or events, we can use the same phase. But though we are pleased when life moves alone by clocklike precision, we should not run around with our hands in the air when it doesn’t. I try to tell myself this as I race around the room cooling my palms. Breathe John, breath. I don’t particularly enjoy the added stress, but I have endured the un-clockwork before and shall, I hope, overcome today’s difficulties as well. Life ain’t easy folks, and anyone that has told you otherwise was less than truthful.
All the same I might enjoy a few days when things move along like clockwork.
(533 Words) 9-21-2017