Saving Time Again

We changed the clocks last night. This one-hour adjustment sparks the same questions twice each year: “Why do we still do this?” and “Did Daylight Savings just start or did Daylight Savings just end?” We reassure our brains that 8am today really does feel like 7am yesterday, trying to come to terms, both physically and mentally, with the altered state.

Underneath it all, I see this as one more example of man’s perceived dominance over something he can never control: time. We pretend we can influence time by measuring it. We push productivity. Engineers publish and reference timetables keep the wheels spinning. We set alarms and count birthdays and reprimand those who come late. The whole of society is forced to observe the schedule in order to exist. That is what the time managers require. With one eye always on the clock, they have determined that only the compliant, sharp, and punctual will succeed.

mechanical clock

Clocks distract us from reality. Beholden to the mechanical device, we remove ourselves from this morning’s sunrise and this evening’s first visible star. We give ourselves permission to forget that we depend upon the sun, whether we are in motion or still, asleep or awake, in darkness or in light. For hundreds of years we have perpetually downgraded time to a thing that exists inside a device that rings from a tower, is hung on the wall, or strapped to a wrist.  We count 86,400 seconds before we reset and count them again …. and again …. and again. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. We are hypnotized into believing the clock is time itself.

Preach all you want, “early” does NOT bring the worm, because so too does the rain. So too does the spring thaw. It is the bird that is observant, careful, and stealth who will eat. The hunt for food, the quest for shelter, the search for water and love — these things cannot be regulated, measured, or postponed. They cannot be systematized, prioritized, simplified, or monetized. Time IS life. Living is done off the clock and on the clock, whether we’re trying to beat it or wind it. It doesn’t matter how we count it; every moment counts.

Yes, counting is easy and living is complicated. Natural survival means watching the sun, tasting the air, smelling the wind, feeling the chill, and listening for the worm. It means using all your senses to identify any one of the 61 definitions printed in my Random House dictionary under the entry for time. But I’ll take living over counting any day.

Do not save daylight. Absorb it. Feel it. Respond to it. Live it, no matter what the clock says.

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