I have a watch which my brother gave me years ago. He found it on the floor of O’Hare International Airport as we were running from one terminal to another; I think I was going from Mexico City back to my university in Ohio after Christmas break. While the watch may be valuable for the name it bears, it’s always been more valuable to me for who it was from.
But, it has never run well.
When I lived in Germany, I had the misfortune of being completely taken advantage of by the jeweler to whom I took it for repair. It came back to me with a sapphire-less stem, a poorly fitting crystal, and a leather strap which had none of the original gold buckle at all. I was too foolish to notice any of this and took it back without saying a word.
It continued to keep poor time.
I took it over and over again to various jewelers when I returned to Illinois. Invariably, within a few weeks, certainly by a month or two, it would stop, and I would put it back in my drawer. Until my mother suggested that I take it to C. D. Peacock this summer, to get it good and properly repaired. They did a fine job, it seemed, and I took it home this July.
It would stop well before twelve hours.
“I can’t understand,” I said to the repairman in his white jacket and monocle today, “I wind it fully ten times before I put it away.”
“Ten times?” he asked. “That isn’t enough. You must wind it until it’s tight.”
“But I’m afraid of breaking it!” I exclaimed. “I’ve wound it too tightly before and completely sprang the spring. (Is that correct terminology?) What if I do it again?”
“You can’t wind it too tightly,” he replied. “If it’s time for it to break, it’s going to break.”
A metaphor for life.
And all these years, I’ve thought that I was responsible for keeping everything running.