Let me tell you about the Marie Antoinette watch.
Its said to be the greatest watch ever made.
One day in 1783, an admirer of the French queen arrived at the workshop of Adam-Louis Breguet, the greatest watchmaker in Paris. He wanted the perfect watch for the perfect woman. His commission was to be without bounds. Breguet was to pour everything he knew into making the most complex, and most beautiful timepiece possible. Money was no object.
The watch became Breguet’s obsession. Even after the French monarchy fell, Marie Antoinette was executed, and the lucrative business he had built from the commissions of the aristrocracy was in ruins, Breguet continued to craft his masterpiece. Ultimately, it took forty years to complete, and had to be finished by Breguet’s son, four years after the master himself died.
Known officially as the Breguet No. 160 Grand Complication, the watch contained every function known at that time – Breguet even invented a few new ones. It was crafted in precious metals and gems. Breguet used sapphire for all the mechanical pivot points in the clockwork, in order reduce friction.
And its these sapphire pivot points that fascinate me.
Because I’m at a pivot point right now.
You will have noticed in recent months that this blog has become fairly, if not completely, dormant. Life has, as it were, taken over. There was no space to write. No space in my life. No space in my head.
Then, in September, on my birthday ironically, my mother-in-law died. Her dementia had been filling up all the space in my brain and in my life. Since she has been gone, I’ve begun to recollect not only who I am, but also all the activities that had been shelved and forgotten in order to look after her. So many things I wanted in my life had fallen away, out of necessity. And so many things now seemed irrelevant.
In the last few months, I know that I have changed not only profoundly but also irrevocably. So much more has been happening than simply looking after my ailing elderly relative – things which are someone else’s story to tell. And yet they, too, have had a hand in my transformation. My life has been like a pack of cards, being shuffled by the Hand of (insert your favourite deity/scientific motivator here).
The day my mother-in-law died was a beautiful day. The sun shone. The sky was a perfect sapphire blue. I stood outside the hospital foyer with a soft, warm wind on my face, and knew that I had reached one of Breguet’s pivots. Wasn’t the sky exactly the right blue, after all? And does not sapphire reduce friction?
The friction of life with Alzheimers is gone. The cards that were thrown up into the air have fallen back down in a new order. The things that seemed important then are irrelevant now, and vice versa.
Now the funeral is over, now the first shock of grief has passed, I find all I want to do is write. I want to write something profound. I want to write because I have changed. I want to write something real. Something hard. Something pivotal. My own sapphire pivot point. So I am writing. By hand in my journal. In notebooks, longhand. Using Natalie Goldberg’s wisdom as my map, I am steadily shuffling my way towards the light.
I hope I am making my own ‘Grand Complication’, out of the precious metals and gems of my own life. I hope you will join me on my journey. And I hope it won’t take me the forty years it took Breguet!