This time

The clock says it is an hour earlier than it was exactly 24 hours ago, and we will be forgiven if we spend an extra hour in bed today. It is the end of daylight-saving time and the return of standard time.

In my neck of the woods, the sun rose at 7:32 a.m. yesterday and will rise at 6:33 a.m. today, setting at 5:35 p.m. yesterday and 4:34 p.m. today.

I miss those summer days when the sun rose at 5 and set around 9 — daylight-saving time “rescued” us from the horror of 4 a.m. sunrises and 8 p.m. sunsets. Come to think of it, “saving” the daylight to match our circadian rhythms may not be the worst idea ever.

What if we abandoned clocks altogether? Would we be that worse off? We wouldn’t know when the train leaves or the games begin, of course — how would we manage? Or are we micromanaging our lives now? Does it really matter that the deadline is 5 p.m., or is “late this afternoon” sufficient? The hands of the clock have been holding us for so long that we’re not sure how to live without them.

Much ado revolves around being on time, but perhaps time is on us, an ever-present stressor. We live a soccer game of a life, where we have two halves to play but we’re not sure exactly when the second half will end.

Should we disconnect the clocks? Never really know what time it is? It would be a jarring change from now, when we carry a precise timepiece in our pockets synchronized to each other all the time — it was exactly 5:43 a.m. Nov. 4, 2023, when I wrote this paragraph. 

It’s quite an invention, this “time,” and we fantasize about moving back and forth through it, as if time were a real thing, but in reality it seems we only move in one direction. After all, if we could go backward, folks would already be doing so, wouldn’t they, and we would be meeting people from the future regularly? Or are the wealthiest among us gamblers equipped with a 2050 edition of Gray’s Sports Almanac?

We mark the return of “standard time” with reminders and conversations about whether daylight-saving is a good idea or a silly one. Should we stay in “standard” time forever and dispense with the manipulation? Or is the conversation itself a silly manipulation, distracting us from the fact that we are living in a remarkable time, or at least (to quote the legendary curse) an interesting time?

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