Daylight Savings Time

When it came time to reset the clocks for DST, I moved through the house, trying to remember how to change the time on some of them and checking to make sure the ones connected to the internet made the switch automatically. In the process, I realized something.

We have eighteen clocks at our house. One in each of our cars, one in each of the three bedrooms (plus an extra in one of them), three in the family room, one each on the computer, the ipad, and each of our phones. The kitchen is a special place all its own. If my wife and I are in the kitchen and both of us have our cell phones with us, there are seven clocks just in that one room. The coffee maker, the rice cooker, the microwave, the oven, the two phones, and a ceramic analog clock on a stand next to the coffee maker (resulting in two clocks within a few inches of each other).

We are both retired and have very few things on our calendars requiring us to be at a particular place on time, but just in case we need to know the time to the minute, we are covered; there are only a few places in our house where that information is not immediately available. So far there are no clocks in the bathrooms, or in the dining room, or the laundry room (unless our new washer or dryer has a clock I’m not aware of), or in the greenhouse. 

Before I retired, most of my activities were dictated by the clock. Getting to work on time, running the workday schedule on time, allowing for travel from one thing to another, squeezing in a few minutes to eat something, being at whatever activity the kids had on that day to drop them off and then pick them up, making sure we were in front of the TV when our favorite shows came on, and so on. It was for me, as I’m sure it is for most folks, relentless, but at least some of that is self-imposed. I wonder if it’s societal pressure or something in our own makeup that drives us to fill all the extra time we gain through the invention of more efficient machines and overall higher productivity with enough activities to keep us on the edge of not having quite enough time to do what we have decided needs to be done. This is not only a formula for increased stress, but more importantly a narrow and inaccurate view of the world in which we live. In our modern society you could argue that efficiency is the god we pray to most often; unfortunately it is an impossible deity to satisfy. 

There are things of great value that have little or nothing to do with efficiency: art, music, friendship, love. These are also things you can’t put a stopwatch on or operate according to a schedule. Also, there are other rhythms. The day/night cycle, the progression of seasons, the buildup and dissipation of weather events of one kind or another, the flow of a conversation from start to finish, the path a song follows from beginning to the last note. Our pets sleep when they are tired, eat when they’re hungry, and let the requirements of the moment guide their waking hours. They don’t worry about daylight savings time. 

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A career working with teenagers on the fringes of society has made me both sensitive to and appreciative of the complexities of character and the struggles, inner and outer, that we all wrestle with in one form or another. My writing emphasizes character development over action, and, as a lifelong Southerner, the rhythms and cadence of the Southeastern United States influence both my spoken and written voice.

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