I opened the door of the grandfather clock and gave the pendulum a push to the right. Over the last two days, I had done the same thing at least forty or fifty times. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that my persistence was futile. It is rumored to be the defining action of one who is insane…doing the same thing over and over, but expecting to see a different result. That said, the name of this blog should give you some idea of the condition of its author. The pendulum swung back and forth, the second hand ticking in rhythm with the action. It had looked just as promising the forty or fifty times before, too.
Perhaps, I should start at the beginning of my tale, so you understand why I was standing on the edge of this cliff of insanity. Close to six months ago, a customer had been in the music store and had mentioned in passing that he had an old grandfather clock which he needed to sell to make room in his house. There was no intent on his part to play the salesman to me; he was merely commenting on the foolishness of buying more guitars to take up space when he already was short on the square footage necessary for living in his abode. The Lovely Lady and I had talked for a number of years about finding a tall floor clock, but had not wanted to pay the exorbitant prices demanded for the beautiful timepieces. When I inquired, my customer originally demanded a similar price. Knowing that we weren’t prepared to pay the price, I moved on to other subjects, but the man never forgot my interest in his clock. Finally, last week, needing cash as well as the aforementioned space, he named a price which was within our comfort zone and the purchase was made. Moving the beast was a feat which involved disassembly of all of the hanging parts; the chimes, the action weights, and the pendulum. Upon arrival at our house, we cleaned all these parts before putting them back into place. Afterward, we stood back and admired the seven foot-plus tall clock, as well as our handiwork in shining it up. If we had left it at that, we would have had a nice decoration piece in the living room and could have saved a little stress. But no…I had to go and try to start the clock running, giving the hanging pendulum a little push. It ticked along for about three minutes and the pendulum slowly came to rest. I repeated the action. There was no change; five minutes or so and it was at rest again.
And, now you’re up to speed and we’re almost back to where we began. Over the next two days, I walked, first hopefully, and as time passed, less so, into the living room to nudge the pendulum again and again. I pushed it to the right; I pushed it to the left. I checked the position of the weights, moved the hands, and repositioned the pendulum on its crutch, all to no avail. The clock would not run. I despaired of ever having success. I thought about the dollars wasted on the attractive “door-stop”. ( It did seem that it would be good for nothing else!) Then, late in the evening of the second day after its arrival, after more than forty-eight hours of starts and stops, I asked the Lovely Lady, “Is there any reason for me to keep starting it?” Her reply belied my inward rebellion at this continued insanity. “You know, it doesn’t cost anything to start it again. Who knows? This might be the time it runs!” I opened the door, with its beveled glass and half-heartedly shoved the pendulum to the right one more time. The Lovely Lady headed for bed; I headed for the computer to write for awhile.
Three hours later, I decided that the bed was calling me too and headed home. Expecting to see the hands in virtually that same position and the pendulum hanging motionless, I turned on the light in the living room anyway. It was still running! I hadn’t set the time earlier, so I did so now, not yet very optimistic. The next morning, it was still keeping time. As I write this, the clock sits ticking away the seconds and minutes, just as if it had never missed a beat. I may never hear the end of it from the Lovely Lady, but she was absolutely right. Sometimes discouragement just needs a little shove to become success.
I’m becoming a great believer in perseverance. It doesn’t make sense to beat your head against a brick wall, but sometimes you just have to stick with a path of action. Sure, you make certain that everything possible has been done to optimize your chances, but after that, you just keep at it. That doesn’t only apply to clocks, either. I’m pretty sure that you can also remember a situation when you thought success would never come, but you stuck to it. It might have been a wayward child, a task at work, even a lifetime goal which seemed to be out of reach. Success only comes with perseverance. Maybe you’re there right now, still suspicious that it might be hopeless; wondering if you should give up and move on. If it was worth starting, it’s worth finishing. Keep going! Swing that pendulum again!
Insanity? Don’t worry about me. I’m used to it by now. I remember Mom asking the question many years ago, after some particularly looney decision on my part, “Have you taken leave of your senses?” It would seem that at last the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” And, sometimes, even to one who is absent from his sense, the sweet feeling of success is achieved.
Time really does fly. I think I’ll spend what I’ve got left reaching just a little farther.
“A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a Heaven for?”
(Robert Browning~English poet~1812-1889)
“You are never too old to set a new goal, or to dream a new dream.”
(C.S. Lewis~British scholar and novelist~1898-1963