Once when I was being sedated for surgery and I was counting backwards, “99, 98, ...” I felt this surge of irresistible calm sweep over me like a vast tide of night. While I floated away I felt myself become totally, completely relaxed. I realized in an instant that I had been unknowingly living my life in a state of being clenched. It was a blessed relief to feel all the tension completely give way to ultimate relaxation--maybe for the first time in my adult life.
In the days and weeks of recovery and rehabilitation that followed and the exigencies of getting back to work, I forgot that brief flash of self-awareness, but fortunately the memory returned one night just as I was falling asleep. With the awareness came this metaphor for the experience.