This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.
Sunday, March 13, 2022
Let’s not waste any.
Today’s word is time, but it’s one of those things that exhausts me just thinking about, because everything about it is profound.
Thinking about it hurts my brain.
So why did I pick it? Because it’s Daylight Saving Time, which is an inherent contradiction right there since we lost an hour.
I guess we gained daylight. But I wouldn’t call it “saved”.
By the way, it isn’t Daylight Savings, which maybe you knew and probably I knew too, except for the fact that I keep adding an s.
The whole concept gives me a headache. I always thought moving the clocks back and forth was stupid, especially since not everyone does it, which means sometimes people in various parts of the world are one amount of time offset, and sometimes they are another amount of time offset.
Our own country doesn’t even honor it everywhere. Hawaii doesn’t participate in this ritualized time warp. Most of Arizona doesn’t. Most of. Not even the whole state! When Daylight Saving Time was instituted, states could opt out, and parts of Arizona did. Because I guess when you live in the desert, the sands of time never run out.
It doesn’t even happen at the same time across the world of people who do participate.
But wait, it gets better.
It wasn’t until 1966 that The United States Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which actually set the dates as to when clocks would be moved forward and back. Up until then it was basically the wild west of time management. States right down to local governments just made it up as they saw fit.
This makes the concept of time entirely mutable. The definition of noon on any given day can mean wholly different things.
I think people in Tennessee are in their own special time zone. You can Google “when does this store open” and show up at 9AM when it’s supposed to, and then stand outside checking your watch and browsing Instagram until 9:12. Or 9:27. Doesn’t really matter. It’s the south, I guess?
Other places you can look them up online AND call them and show up there when they say they’re open and… nope. No sign, no explanation, you could be there for an hour and they just… aren’t.
For someone from New York this is utterly maddening.
I’ve known people who are time zones unto themselves. Doesn’t matter if there is a dinner reservation or you’re standing in the rain, they show up 20 minutes or an hour late every time. You can practically set your clock by it.
By the way, do you want some really fun trivia? The entire country of China is a single time zone. Given that it’s nearly the size of the United States, and we have four time zones in the contiguous 48, that should give you an idea of what it’s like to have a nine-to-five job over there.
Time is an elusive thing. We have more ways of pretending we can control it than Eskimos have for snow, which is apparently a lot.
We attempt to spend it, buy it, save it, waste it. We wish we could turn back time, go back in time, make time stand still. We lose it, then try to find it again.
Most often we try to make it, but sometimes we try to kill it, which is interesting for people who never seem to have enough of it.
Did you know that Daylight Saving started in Canada, eh?
Not the entire country, but a few local places decided that they needed more evening light. They’re the real OG time slayers.
You can thank Germany for making it a thing. Just under a decade later, they instituted it during World War I, allegedly to save fuel for the war. A bunch of other countries jumped on board and next thing you know we’re all losing sleep in spring.
A stitch in time saves nine.
That’s a fancy way of saying “fix your s#!t now before it takes up more time later.”
Take time. We say that as if you can just snatch a few hours out of thin air.
It frequently gets away from us, which implies that we had any ownership of it in the first place.
Time is relative, depending on whether it’s Monday, or you’re three minutes late to a phone call.
We race against it, lose track of it, bide it.
For all that we never really have it on our side.
Six years can go as quickly as one day. And one day can seem to last six years.
Farmers didn’t invent Daylight Saving. Neither did Benjamin Franklin. The latter was being his witty old self when he proposed waking people up earlier with canon blasts to save candles at night.
The former wish it never happened because it completely throws off their schedule.
After World War I, Daylight Saving was repealed because people hated it so much. Then implemented again during World War II then repealed again. In the 70s during the energy crisis, we experimented with year round Daylight Saving. But everyone hated that, too.
You just can’t please some people.
Personally I wish it did last all year. I don’t see any benefit to being in darkness for most of the afternoon all winter long.
Have you ever stared at your watch in an attempt to make time go faster? A watched pot never boils and a watched clock never ticks. It’s some kind of inverse law of physics that the faster you want it to go, the slower it moves.
We never have enough of it but always think we have more of it.
During the course of writing this, I couldn’t help but meander through some songs with the word time in them. Unchained Melody popped up first for some bizarre reason.
Second was Styx with this beauty of a lyric: too much time on my hands. It’s ticking away with my sanity.
Sometimes your brain harbors the weirdest things. I probably haven’t heard that song for three decades. I also most decidedly do not have too much time on my hands, despite what you may think by virtue of the fact that I am still sitting here writing this.
When it comes to stuff like this I fall down a rabbit hole, which sometimes leads to the loss of large chunks of time. One website has a list of 100 songs with the word time just in the title.
The rabbit hole, which is a colloquialism we fashioned from Lewis Carroll. Much like the title of this post. If you can pull that out of your mad hatter’s cap, then once upon a time you were probably as obsessively literary as me and perhaps understand my love of myriad fantastical words.
And now it’s time to hit the road, or at least the pillow. I did lose an hour of sleep, after all.
Photo: a watch given to me by a friend who knows a few of my obsessions.