Hour After Hour

Attention, my fellow passengers. Welcome back to Standard Time. Please make sure all clocks have been restored to the fallback position, and …

OK, I’ll wait for the grumbling to stop.

Twice a year we do this dance. Twice a year, half the country complains about it. And 10 years out of 10, nothing ever changes. Back and forth we run the time-shift tennis match, Standard Time to Daylight Time to Standard Time again.

We all know it’s crazy. But we don’t seem to know how to stop.

We’ve tried with logic, whether it’s “lighter mornings are better for your body” or “lighter evenings are better for the economy.”

We’ve tried with safety, noting the brief surge of traffic accidents when the clock changes in any direction.

We’ve tried jokes, memes and satire – though I should note that a satirical piece by Ben Franklin is partly what got us into this mess.

We’ve even tried legislation and ballot issues, pursued with much fanfare and little efficacy. The one time we did see a change – shifting to year-round Daylight Saving Time for two years in the Nixon administration – the popularity quickly soured amidst wintertime images of kids going to school in the dark. (The counter-experiment of nationwide year-round Standard Time has yet to be run – except of course, for all those years before 1918.)

So whether you’re singing “Here Comes the Sun” with the Beatles or “Thank the Lord for the Night Time,” with Neil Diamond, we seem destined to confusion and disappointment for at least part of the year. Kind of like being a Rockies fan, but without the hot dogs.

But there’s something else we can do.

Maybe we can’t figure out how to set our time. But we can consider how we spend it.

For a people who live by the clock, we’re really good at letting it get away from us. It’s easy to let minutes blur into hours into “Where did the week go?” Most of the time, it’s gone to the routine – some of it necessary, much of it just habit.

That’s part of why big events shock us. Aside from any inherent wonder or horror they may hold, they force us to break out of our reflexes and notice. (Or if you’re a Talking Heads fan, to ask “Well … how did I get here?”)

Remember when the pandemic started? Those first couple of months that never seemed to end? With most of our usual options for filling time gone, we had no choice but to notice every single minute and figure out what the heck we were going to do with it. Sure, some of those choices were a little strange, but hey … what wasn’t?

There’s still little bits of that rattling around in our “normal” today. A reminder that our moments hold more than we sometimes realize.

The thing is, it doesn’t require a pandemic. (Thank goodness.) But it does require some conscious effort. Stepping out of the flow always does. But if we take a moment to see beyond the schedule, we can put those moments where they belong: with the people we care about and the calls that need us. To live, not just exist.

If we do that, then we really can define our time.

No matter how shifty it may be.

Rock Doubt

Well, at least we’re not Oakland. 

Small consolation at the best of times, I know. But it’s all I’ve got left to offer. 

If you’re a fellow Colorado Rockies fan, you get it. And if you’re a fellow Colorado Rockies fan, I am so, so sorry. 

One. Hundred. Losses. 

And beyond, naturally. The count stood at 102 when I wrote this and may have added one or two more by the time our final out of the year was recorded on Sunday. But as usual, it’s the big round number that stands out, the mark of infamy that no Rockies team had ever before reached. 

One hundred losses.

We’re not the first team to ever get here, of course. We’re not even the first one this season. The aforementioned Oakland A’s (111 losses at this writing) had a year that almost gave the tragic 1962 Mets a run for their money. Lest anyone forget, that was the year manager Casey Stengel uttered the immortal words “Can’t anybody here play this game?” 

So yeah. We’re not the worst of the worst of the worst.  

Um … yay?

It’s not just the bad season, of course. Everyone gets them eventually. It’s that there have been so many for so long, years where even “mediocre” has seemed like an aspirational goal.  It’s been 16 years since “Rocktober” now. Only four of those have seen winning seasons. The last one – admittedly, one of our best teams since those brief World Series days – was five years ago. 

But even there, it’s not just that it’s happened. It’s how. Get any group of Rockies fans together for longer than ten minutes and you’ll hear the same grumbles. “The owners don’t care. They don’t have to. People keep coming … they could lose every game and still make money.” 

I don’t live in the Monforts’ heads, so I can’t swear to whether that’s true, though I have my theories. (That’s half the fun of being a fan, after all.) But the fact that it’s even credible is toxic. 

After all, it’s a problem that goes beyond baseball. A problem that can be summed up in four words. 

“It’s all about me.” 

It fills the headlines every day. We see it in political showdowns that play poker with people’s lives and well-being. We see it in collisions at every level, where the fears or ambitions of a few can run roughshod over everyone else. During the height of the pandemic, it was an opponent almost as dangerous as the virus itself, when all of us had to remember that our actions affected more than just ourselves.

To be honest, we’re better at that than we give ourselves credit for. Most of us know that we should be looking beyond our own skin, that our neighbors matter. But like a person standing in a doorway, it only takes a few to get in the way of everyone else – not just by what they do or prevent, but by building a feeling of despair that accelerates the cycle. When you start to feel like nothing can be done, you’re less likely to do anything.

Heavy thoughts for something as light as a bad baseball season, I know. But the answer’s the same. Awareness. Hope. Determination. Not to give up, not to wait for things to magically get better, but to act. To remind the self-focused – in the owner’s box or in the nation – that we’re here and we won’t be taken for granted.

Interesting stat – out of all the baseball teams that have lost 100 games, about one in eight had a winning season the next year. Even the “average” mega-loser made their way back to the playoffs in about seven years. Change can happen … once there’s the willingness to do it.

It’s time to play ball. Push hard. And remember, we’re not Oakland.

It’s not much of a battle cry, but it’s a start.   

The Time Between

Nobody has perfect 20/20 foresight. Not even John Adams. 

Full of excitement at America’s independence, he predicted in a letter that there’d be a great anniversary festival. He saw how future generations would celebrate it with “pomp and parade, with shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” 

He also predicted it would be on July 2. Whoops. 

To be fair, the world looked very different when Adams wrote home on July 3. The vote to break with Great Britain had been yesterday. The vote to approve the Declaration would be tomorrow. Few people knew what had happened; fewer still could guess what it might mean. 

A moment of transformation. No, make that a moment IN transformation. A change in process, with the past behind and the new present not yet formed. 

Exciting. Terrifying. Uncertain. 

And oh, so familiar. 

The technical term is a “liminal moment,” meaning a moment on the threshold. We experience a lot of them, as individuals and a society. They’re not a comfortable place to be, not least because they hold so many questions from the inside. 

“Am I an adult yet?” 

“Are we in or out of a pandemic – or does that mean anything?” 

“Am I over the threshold or still in between?” 

We don’t like uncertainty, of course. So we try to set boundaries, definitions, signposts. (“Why, you’re an adult when you’re 18. Except for the parts where you’re 21. Other terms and conditions may apply.”) We want to move ahead and get out of the fog, finding our way to firmer ground. 

But please. Don’t rush too fast. 

That time in between has value. 

You can’t live there, of course. But you can make a life from there. It’s a moment of discarding old assumptions and shaping new ideas.  When tomorrow doesn’t have to look just like today with better cars and smaller computers. When we can choose who we are and what we want to become. 

Treasure that. 

Sure, we’ll be wrong about a lot of things. We’re human. It happens. But if we live these moments unafraid to be wrong – aware, adaptable, open to wonder – then even our mistakes can lead somewhere pretty amazing. Maybe even revolutionary. 

So here’s to Mr. Adams and all his heirs. Perhaps, in his honor, we should commemorate July 3 as well. Not the day of decision, nor the day of declaration, but a day of possibilities with all the world open. 

That’s certainly something worth writing home about. 

Over the Line

When I first got glasses at age 16, I rediscovered the world. Trees actually had leaves. Lawns revealed their individual blades of grass. Details that had been fuzzy became laser-sharp.

“Wow,” I wondered. “How long have I been missing all this?”

When I last got glasses about two months ago, I discovered … a line. Floating at the lower edge of my vision. Fuzzy and sharp were now a matter of range, position and minor frustration.

“Wow,” I wondered. “How long will I be fumbling with all this?”

Yes, I’ve officially entered Bifocal Country. And in the process, I’ve decided that Ben Franklin’s greatest achievement wasn’t his stove or his electrical experiments – it was his ability to juggle two visual frames of reference at once without going insane.

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF … Hold on, Madison, I have to re-angle this … the blasted paper’s too large to see all at once …”

Teaching my eyes when to dance over and under the line has not exactly been a graceful tango. But somewhere along the line (pardon the phrase), the music clicked. Reflexes adjusted. And that border between far-lenses and near-lenses that had been so annoying became … well, not exactly invisible. But normal, even sometimes forgettable.

That shouldn’t surprise me, I suppose. People get used to anything if it goes on long enough. That’s helpful in a world of situations, from minor eye annoyances to surviving the London Blitz.

But often as not, it’s one of our major problems, too.

We have an ability to edit that would make Hollywood jealous. And boy, do we. Sometimes it’s just a failure to see the everyday with fresh eyes, mentally blurring out a house or tree we’ve walked past a thousand times before. More often, though, we remove the uncomfortable. Not consciously, but by letting it become “normal.”
It might be someone holding a cardboard sign on the side of the road. Or a school shooting headline. Or one more story about those still vulnerable to the virus and its latest mutations. Things that once might have been a punch to the heart – and now, for many, become a moment’s attention and a shake of the head if they’re acknowledged at all.

I know. We’ve all got to survive and find a way to keep going in an often broken world. But we also have to do it without becoming numb. Pain ignored is only pain deferred – it’s not a solution.

Anyone who’s done home repair knows this. It’s easy to ignore a minor drip, a bit of wear, one of the hundred small warning signs around the house that say “fix me.” It becomes background noise … until the day that all that missed maintenance adds up to big problems and bigger repair bills.

Or take our own bodies. The repeated ache that’s “probably no big deal,” the odd lump that “I should get checked out sometime.” We’re busy and everything basically works, right? Until one day it doesn’t, and something that could have been caught early has life-changing consequences.

A person. A home. A society. All need attention. Not obsession or frantic worry, but awareness. An ability to feel and notice pain and then address the cause.

It isn’t easy, Worthwhile things often aren’t. But if we can look beyond our own moment, we can see what needs doing. Maybe even see our way forward to something better.

It’s a matter of focus.

Because unlike bifocals, some lines shouldn’t be overlooked.

Word Out

The final count: 423 words in a row.

I stared at the screen for a few seconds in disbelief. Nothing lasts forever, of course. But my year-plus run of beating Wordle had started to feel pretty close.  The game’s six steps had always been enough to solve the five-letter word of the day, even if it was sometimes by the skin of my teeth.

But not this time.

“Current streak: 0.”

The word on the screen was CREDO, as in a core statement of belief. The word from my mouth … um, may not have had five letters in it.

The worst part? I’d done it to myself. My guesses had uncovered all five letters of the answer, but I’d read too quickly to notice and only used four.The information was there. The brain was not.

And if that sounds way too familiar, I’m not surprised.

Sherlock Holmes used to warn about the dangers of reasoning from incomplete data. But in this information-soaked age, the more common problem is likely to be the reverse: complete data, incomplete reasoning. We get tired. Or distracted. Or even overwhelmed as we try to handle “everything, everywhere, all at once,” which these days is not just a movie, it’s a way of life.

Whatever the reason, it creates a brain wreck. Sometimes it’s just annoying, like spotting an error in an email you sent just give minutes ago. Other times, it’s bigger – maybe even on the level of national news. (“BREAKING: GOVERNMENT FAILED TO ACT ON WARNINGS.”)

But in a weird way, it’s also hopeful. It means learning is possible.

If you visit here regularly, you may know that I’m also a tabletop roleplayer who runs Dungeons & Dragons games for his nephews. (If you didn’t know that, yes, I’m even geekier than you realized.) I bring it up because a lot of modern games now include the concept of “failing forward.” In a roleplaying game, it means that a failure should always advance the story in some way, even while making things harder.

In real life, it’s an even simpler concept: that a failure you can learn from is not a total failure. It’s the beginning of a future success.

It hurts. No question. It’s frustrating beyond belief. And even when you know what needs to improve, it’s often not easy. It often means retraining habits,  pushing beyond old expectations, even asking for help. Learning’s not a comfortable thing.

But it’s a possible thing. It can be done. And that’s what matters.

The story can move forward.

And despite what the world tells you, it doesn’t have to move forward at a rush. Take the time you need. Examine the situation. Learn the pieces you have and be ready to look for new ways they might fit.

It doesn’t guarantee a win. But it keeps you in the game. And with enough struggle and awareness and growth, it can eventually spell something pretty G-R-E-A-T.

At least, that’s my credo.

To the Letter

This December, Missy and I have been reading someone else’s mail. And it’s been magical.

“Ok, Missy, are you ready for Father Christmas?”

The eager smile as I opened the book said it all.

Every year, our bedtime reading with Missy takes in at least one holiday classic. We’ve done “The Story of Holly and Ivy,” “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” and even “A Christmas Carol.” But given how much Missy enjoys magical stories, I’m kind of surprised it took us this look to reach for “Letters From Father Christmas.”

If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s a slim volume by J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, the Hobbit guy. His children, like many, wrote letters to Father Christmas each year … and in their case, Father Christmas wrote them back. The resulting correspondence from the North Pole (which included hand-drawn pictures) stretched from the 1920s until the early 1940s, when the last of the four young Tolkiens finally grew beyond “stocking age.”

During that period, they could count on getting all the latest news. One year might be the humorous misadventures of what the well-meaning North Polar Bear had broken THIS year. Another might tell of an attempt by goblins to raid the storehouses. And always, whether it was a quick note or a long tale, there’d be the sense of so much going on behind the scenes.

But the collection is also an indirect chronicle of the family itself. Each Father Christmas letter gives a glimpse of the children at the other end: the teddy bear collection, the railroad enthusiasm, the year one child tried sending Father Christmas a telegram in the off-season.  And as they grow, it’s clear that the gifts of love and wonder given by the letters lasted far beyond the holiday.

That’s something worth recapturing now.

I know. By this time of year, most of us are pretty exhausted. And lately, when New Year’s starts to appear on the horizon, we greet it with more resignation than excitement. If Dec. 31 had a motto for the 2020s, it would probably be “Well, thank goodness THAT one’s over.”

But long after candles have been snuffed, trees have come down and lights packed away, we still have the gift of each other. And we have to give it well, whatever the time of year.

We give it to neighbors when we help each other face the challenges of the world, whether it’s a snowstorm, a pandemic, or just a chore that’s too much for one person to do alone.

We give it to friends when we celebrate their joys and ease their trials, even if all we can do is listen and understand.

And yes, we give it to our children when we help them grow with an open heart and a spirit of curiosity and wonder. That, most of all, ensures the gift will continue.

It doesn’t require handwritten letters with a North Pole postmark (though I suppose it never hurts). Even in Tolkien’s day, that was just the gift-wrapping.  It starts with awareness – noticing other people, remembering that they matter, and then treating them that way.

Sounds simple, I know. But when we remember to do it, it has the power of a child receiving Father Christmas’s personal attention: a reminder that they’re seen, they’re important and they’re cared for.

So don’t let that spirit stop at Jan. 1. Keep being the gift.

After all it’s always a good time to be living in the present.

Throwing DARTs

Call the shot: asteroid, corner pocket.

That’s what kept running through my mind after we all heard the latest news from NASA. In an effort to sharpen Earth’s defenses against runaway rocks, the space agency recently slammed a spaceship into a test asteroid. The goal: to see if the rock could be bumped off course, a planetary billiards shot worthy of Minnesota Fats.

“This one’s for the dinosaurs,” one Tweet declared, one of many social media posts declaring “Revenge!” for T-Rex and its cousins.

No, it’s not exactly Hollywood. As NPR reminded everyone, our movie-makers like to solve the problem of planet-killer asteroids with nuclear weapons. (Right, Mr. Willis?) As usual, reality is a little more subtle. Just like fighting fire with fire, you fight motion with motion.

Nudges. Not nukes.

Not a bad course of action for life in general, when you think about it. We’ve all seen situations where the quiet conversation undoes the need for the shouting match, the soft answer that turns away wrath. On a larger scale, politics happens because we believe that words are better than wars … and breaks down when we forget that fact.

But there’s a second part to this, too. NASA hasn’t forgotten it. We shouldn’t either.

Without awareness, the best nudge in the world is doomed to fail.

We’re great at watching the depths of interstellar space. But our own backyard has some blind spots. Every so often, we’ll see a story about a near-miss asteroid that surprised us from out of the sun, like the Red Baron ambushing Snoopy. One rock the size of a football field missed us in 2019 by about 43,000 miles – about one-fifth the distance to the moon – and wasn’t seen until after the fact. A smaller one the next year passed us by 1,800 miles; we noticed six hours later.

Moments like that are why NASA plans to launch a new Space Surveyor telescope in a few years to help keep an eye on lower earth orbit. They’re also a good reminder for the two simple words that we’re so bad at: pay attention.

On the sidewalk, it can mean a trip or a collision because someone’s eyes were on their phone instead of their surroundings.

On the highway, a moment’s lapse of attention can have horrifying consequences.

On a larger scale, early detection of a crisis – from hurricanes to viruses – can save lives. Ignoring the warnings or failing to see them can be disastrous.

We can all chime in with our personal examples, of course. Maybe it’s something spotted during a bit of home maintenance that saved a repair later. Or a symptom noticed and checked out before it became something worse. Or even just learning about a friend’s troubles in time to lend a hand and a heart.

You can’t help what you don’t know.

Granted, our attention can’t be everywhere. A lot of alarms go off around the world in the course of a day (just ask TV news). Trying to keep every last one in mind is a recipe for anxiety and despair. There needs to be judgment as well as awareness.

But we can’t walk blind. Not to our surroundings. Not to our neighbors. Certainly not to our world.

It’s a balancing act. But a vital one. And working together, with open eyes and a light touch, we can help each other make it.

No, it’s not easy. But it’s worth the shot.

And if we aim it right, we just might hit the pocket.

Greater Scope

Wow. Wow. And wow again.

In the rich variety of the English language, with all its nuanced shades of meaning, there really isn’t a better word. Not for a space geek suddenly faced with the first photos from the James Webb Space Telescope.

WOW!

If you haven’t seen the images yet, make the time. Right now. I mean it, I’ll still be waiting here when you come back. The rest of us can tell you: They’re just. That. Good.

When I went to college in the 1990s, the first photos came back from the recently repaired Hubble. The world was floored then, too. Over the next two decades or so, we saw the universe as it had never been seen before: rich, vivid and inviting.

I still treasure those discoveries. But the images arriving from Webb now make Hubble look like a pinhole camera.

“It’s amazing how gorgeous, scary, mind-blowing and hopeful it all is,” one person commented to the NASA Twitter account. Someone else called the pictures “the most INSANE BEAUTIFUL things ever!!!” Amidst the brilliance and wonder of the galaxies and nebulae shown – so close, so beautiful – more than one person said how small it made everything else feel.

I get that. I really do. But I want to flip the direction for a second.

Because in the face of all of this, I don’t feel small at all.

It’s true, starting the universe in the face has a way of putting things in perspective. Earthly matters seem to dwindle by comparison: our prejudices, our conflicts, even the Avalanche’s third Stanley Cup. But it’s not like there’s a spot labeled “You are Here” where The Universe sits just beyond the fence line, the next-door neighbor with the awesome photo albums.

We’re in it. Of it.  Right here. Right now. Not a disconnected viewer, but a participant tied in to all the rest.

“It makes me feel more important,” my wife Heather told me after we’d both absorbed it all for a while. “Like there’s this wonderful, beautiful universe and I get to be a small part of it. And it’s part of me, too.”  

I promise, I’m not going to turn into Yoda on you. Not today, anyway. But I want to linger on that point.

It’s easy to feel small. Many of us do it every day. We face a world that constantly seems beyond our strength, with more and more weighing us down, from the personal to the global. And so we decide we’re insignificant, that nothing we do could possibly matter.

But when we look outward, we rekindle hope.

A fan of time-travel fiction once noted that we write story after story about how taking a small action in the past can transform the present. And yet, he wrote, we remain skeptical that a small action now could transform the future.

Perspectives in space. Perspectives in time. Either way, we see the connections. We see ourselves: not small or insignificant, but part of something bigger, where every tiny piece is part of the greater beauty.

Maybe, just maybe, that view can help us shift our bit of the universe. Right here. Right now.

So go on. Take another look. Let yourself “wow” again.

It’s amazing what can happen when you get tangled up in the Webb.

What a Racket

Ugo Humbert, I feel your pain.

If you’re not an avid follower of tennis news … well, neither am I, to be honest. But the news out of Wimbledon a couple of weeks ago is the sort of thing that any of us could sympathize with.

You see, Ugo’s match got delayed 90 minutes by rain. And when everyone got the word to start up again, he got excited to get back on the court. Maybe just a little too excited.

“Despite coming on court carrying a massive red bag,” Reuters reported, “the 24-year-old sheepishly admitted: ‘I don’t have any rackets – sorry for that.’”

That’s right. A professional tennis player showed up without his racket.

Really, who hasn’t been there? I mean, I we’ve all walked out of the house without something, haven’t we? Car keys, wallet, glasses, phone, the major implement of our profession … it’s all good, right?

OK, it’s easy to tease. But we have all had the nightmare, haven’t we? It’s the athletic version of the “came to school undressed” dream, complete with the inevitable crowd of people laughing nearby. And it’s almost always born of anxiety: the fear of being off guard, unprepared, out of control.

Of course, there’s an irony. What’s most likely to make us unprepared? Anxiety – or rather, the sense of hurry that anxiety can bring.

Don’t get me wrong. There certainly are situations that call for urgency, excitement, even haste. When something’s on fire – metaphorically or literally – it’s a time for action rather than dithering. But it’s easy to get caught up in what needs to be done without spending any thought on how to do it. And that’s how rackets get left behind.

In the ocean, it’s the difference between flailing and swimming.

On the battlefield, it’s the difference between a panicked mob and an army.

In any situation, it’s the difference between impulse and direction. Or the recognition that “Do something!” isn’t the same as “Do anything!”

That’s hard to remember in a crisis. But essential. It requires awareness, thought and preparation. You have to know your goals and what it will take to get there. Sure, you’ll always have to adapt and change for circumstances … but it’s a lot easier to adapt if you have some idea what you’re doing. “Plans are worthless,” Dwight Eisenhower famously said, “but planning is everything.”

We’re having to plan for a lot these days. Alarms scream on the deck from every direction: about the environment, about politics, about viruses, and about 137 other crises besides. (But hey, it’s early yet.) None of these are back-burner questions. All of them are going to require all the ingenuity and energy we can bring.

But energy without focus doesn’t accomplish much.

That’s where we need each other. Not just to support our goals, but to give the “hey, wait a minute” that keeps things on task. It’s the sort of grounding that stage managers give actors, that editors give writers and that friends give friends.

Ugo got that kind of help – belatedly, but it came. Within two minutes, someone arrived with a fresh set of rackets. He was rattled at first, naturally, but went on to win.

It’s a simple lesson: Together, we can keep each other in the game.

Or at least make sure that we’re ready to raise a racket.

Getting Tick-Tocked Off

Is this the year we finally lock the clock?

I know, I’m an optimist. (Hey, it comes with being a Colorado Rockies fan.)  Twice a year, we go through the whole “spring forward, fall back” ritual. Each time I keep hoping it’ll be the last. And every year, I keep getting disappointed.

I know I’ve got company. Oh, the argument about how to end Daylight Saving Time goes on and on, between the Standard Time folks who want to wake up to morning light and the Daylight Time ones who want to push back the night as far as possible. But if the debate goes on long enough, it always ends on the same point: “I don’t care where they set it as long as they quit moving the clock around!”

Well, it just might happen this time. There’s a bill …

Yeah, yeah, I hear the groans. There’ve been bills before. This one, however, wants to take the initiative – a ballot initiative, that is. State senators Ray Scott and Jeff Bridges and State Rep. Cathy Kipp have introduced a measure that, if adopted, would ask Coloradans to vote on whether to stay on Standard Time permanently. In other words, to “fall back” and stay back.

Why not permanent Daylight Time? Because federal law doesn’t allow it. A state can either do the biannual flip-flop or it can stay on Standard Time, but anything else requires an act of Congress. And if you’ve seen Congress’s ability to work together lately … yeah.

Still. Think about it.

No more confused pets wondering why feeding time has suddenly changed.

Fewer drowsy drivers in the early spring, boosting the accident totals.

No fumbling with the microwave and stove clocks, trying to remember (again) how to reset them.

We’d even get a slightly better utility bill out of it. Studies have shown that year-round standard time would lower heating and cooling costs, especially in the fall near the end of DST. (Lighting costs, which have become much lower in these days of LEDs, would barely tick upward in comparison.)

It makes sense. And therefore it’s probably doomed.

Still, one can hope. After all, if these last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that time is what we make of it.

Sometimes we barely notice it pass. (“How did she get to be a high school senior already?”) Sometimes it seems to drag forever. (“Welcome to March 57th, 2020.”) We measure time for our convenience, to keep some consistency as we move through the cycles of the world, but it’s our attention and our activities that define it.

So yes, we grumble in annoyance when a little of that consistency gets jerked away. But the bigger question isn’t where we set the clock … it’s how we fill the time. What are we doing to give that time meaning?

That doesn’t have to mean writing the Great American Novel or filling our days with constant activity. But there should be something that brings a little light into existence, and not just because of a time change. It might be reaching out to a neighbor. Or taking joy in something you love, whether it’s a book or a garden patch. It could mean creating, conversing, walking, or simply finding a quiet moment to just be.

The efficiency expert Frank Gilbreth was once asked why he wanted to save time  – what was it for? His response, recounted in Cheaper by the Dozen, was simple:

“For work, if you love that best … For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure. … For mumblety-peg, if that’s where your heart lies.”

Whatever time we’re given, let’s use it well.

And if it can stop jumping around while we’re trying to use it, so much the better.