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.

It’s About Time

Time marches on. Except about now, when it decides to run an obstacle course instead.

This is when the Great Christmas Invasion continues the offensive it began about three weeks before Halloween, driving Pilgrims and turkeys into a distant corner to mutter and reflect.

This is when baseball peeks ever so briefly into November, long enough to confuse hardcore football fans, and add the sting of frozen skies to a world Series defeat. (Well, as frozen as it ever gets in Los Angeles, anyway.)

And of course, inevitably, this is the time of the Great Sleep Restoration. Of the Real Time Revolution. Of the End to All Clock Mockery.

Or, more simply, the end of Daylight Saving Time. Thank goodness.

I’ve never been a fan of the twice-a-year clock jumping. It saves no energy. It makes drivers a little more groggy and a little less safe. And it confuses dogs and cats across the country who have no idea what the silly clock says, they just know they’re hungry NOW. (Granted, our Big Blake is always hungry now. But go with me on this one.)

I used to offer my lifetime vote to any politician who succeeded in ending the madness … preferably (in my opinion) by falling back and staying back, so an hour of sleep wouldn’t fall permanently into the abyss. And slowly, the country seems to be getting the message. Over the last few years, bills to lock the clock have been seen in Utah, in Canada, even here in Colorado. The latest effort, out of New England, involves three states trying to coordinate a change, and maybe jumpstart a movement.

Granted, none of them have won yet, not counting longtime holdouts like Hawaii and Arizona. But Bill Murray didn’t get it right the first time in Groundhog Day either. Or the second time. Or the … all right, it took a while, OK?

In fact, if there is any value to Daylight Savings at all, it’s in reminding us that time is what we make of it.

As usual, Missy sets the example in our house. For most folks, the Christmas season starts after Thanksgiving (unless you run a superstore, of course). For our developmentally disabled ward, there is never a bad time to play Christmas music. Pop in a Pentatonix holiday album a week after Memorial Day? Why not?

For most folks, an evening activity at 6 p.m. means a certain amount of time on your hands until then. For Missy, it means keeping an eye on the door and the window in breathless excitement, even if it’s 2 in the afternoon, in case the world changes and it’s suddenly time to go.

And of course, the notion of the clock governing bedtime is approximate at best. We manage to hit roughly the same time each night, but the real deciding factors are things like: Is it dark? Have I listened to enough music? Have I had my story yet? Do I feel tired? Scared? Frustrated? Did I get my evening’s worth today?

It can be a little disorienting. But it’s also more than a little freeing, as you start to sort out what HAS to happen now and what can be displaced. Sure, the world goes around, the seasons go by, everything changes and ages. But how we greet it all, how we mark and measure it, how we fill the time and make it our own – that’s up to us. We can make it a mess or a joy. (And since Colorado can have four seasons in 24 hours, we may even get multiple opportunities.)

With that kind of freedom, why spend any of it in reprogramming car clocks and microwaves?

Think about it. Make your time what you want it to be.

And if you want it to be without a certain spring-forward-fall-back ritual – well, that’s clearly an idea whose time has come.