Wednesday, April 14, 2021



The mainspring contains a lot of energy. Clocks and watches have to be disassembled periodically for maintenance and repair, and if precautions are not taken the spring can release suddenly, causing serious injury. Mainsprings are 'let down' gently before servicing, by pulling the click back while holding the winding key, allowing the spring to slowly unwind. However, even in their 'let down' state, mainsprings contain dangerous residual tension. Watchmakers and clockmakers use a tool called a "mainspring winder" to safely install and remove them. Large mainsprings in clocks are immobilized by "mainspring clamps" before removal.

"The mainspring is gone," I said. "Or I guess, to muddy the metaphor, the mainsprings are gone. My life still works, when I need it to. But the motive is gone.

"So what I'm hoping to understand -- to make -- is a new mainspring. And I thought, you know, I'm not proud, if there's a chemical shortcut I'm happy to take it. I think what I need, what I'm looking for, is a vision, an intense, clear vision, of...

"Okay, let's leave that be for the moment. If I could clearly describe the object of that 'of' then I wouldn't be here. I used to be able to tell you, pretty specifically. It was childish, but I knew what it was. It was the City on the Hill where the Cool Kids were, and I would go there and I would be King of the Cool Kids and all the women would want (in due order and without indecorous pushing or shoving) to sleep with me. 

"But I no longer believe in the City on the Hill. I no longer believe in the Cool Kids. I used to want in. But that doesn't drive me any more. So I'm adrift. I'm not particularly in pain, but... I'm not under sail any more. I'm just bobbing on the water."

"And you want to be under sail again?"

"Seems like madness, doesn't it? Isn't that precisely what the Buddha spent his life trying to achieve: freedom from being driven by fears and desires? And here I am, free at last, asking to be enslaved again?"

"That's one way to look at it, certainly. I can think of others. It's not how we typically look at it, in our profession, but we're not very philosophically sophisticated." Her smile hovered for  moment and disappeared. "But certainly a person needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning."

"Yes. And for the Buddha it was compassion. And maybe delight, I don't know. The delight is gone too. I mean, it flickers from time to time. But I wonder sometimes now if my earlier experiences of joy weren't just symptoms of my metabolic disorder, blood sugar swashing this way and that. I'm not transfixed by it now, not usually. There have been times in my life when I would turn a corner and see a fruit tree in blossom against a blue sky and I'd stagger, literally stagger, the beauty would knock me to my knees. Where has that gone? Now, now it's 'oh, there's pretty tree.' God help me."

"So you're thinking maybe if you nibble a mushroom, maybe you'll see the fruit tree of all fruit trees, lit up against heaven, and the mere memory of it will get you out of bed every morning for the rest of your days?"

I smile wanly. Why did I think I wanted a smart therapist? That was a goofy idea. "Yeah, I guess so. Something like that. Put that way it doesn't sound very... probable."

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