This past Saturday night was the night we “sprung forward” here in America. Well, our clocks did anyway. I think Americans themselves are still dragging a little bit behind this week. I won’t bore you with the history of the why of Daylight Savings Time (DST) (though if you don’t know you can find an in-depth explanation of it here), I’ll just say that the reverberations of this biannual modification are exhausting and long lasting and have gotten me wondering about things like time and space and the pace at which we expect change to happen in our own lives.
Despite the benefits of DST (more sunlight in the evening, a (debatable) decrease of energy use, a couple more hours to play golf), my opinion of the matter falls on the side of it’s not worth the trouble. What do we get from it, really? Our days are going to gain daylight no matter what the clocks say. If we were just patient enough, our evenings would get brighter on their own very soon.
DST has been a shock to my system that has lasted all week. The mornings are really dark again (I have to use our car’s headlights when I drop Noah off at school) and it stays light well later than my body clock thinks it should. So, in our house we’ve ended up eating dinner after eight each night because it hasn’t occurred to me to start cooking when it still feels like 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The dog has been restless, too, waking me up at 1am, whining and stumbling around the room. Shopkeepers on Main Street are crabby. The mailman is crabby. *I’m* more than crabby. It feels like the whole world is going through detox–or suffering a bad hangover.
I know that other parts of the world adhere to DST, too (though I believe theirs is a shorter season), but I’ve begun to see this abrupt adjustment as just one more way that our culture’s impatience is on full display. Day Light Savings time is a quick-fix to a problem that, if given the chance, would eventually resolve itself (and then, ironically, reverse itself), but we’re too impatient to let things happen on their own. We feel the need to mess with the circadian rhythm that is, you know, orchestrated BY THE SUN and the angle of the earth’s rotation. Oh, humans. Beings who consider it necessary to employ stopgap measures–in order to get us to where we want to be FASTER. (In this situation the destination is: summer-y-er, light-er, the eighteenth hole.)
I’m noticing this now, this year, in a way that I haven’t in the past because of the changes that I’m trying to make in my own little life. Finding a new job. Starting and stopping certain habits. Keeping up with a blog. Finding gratitude and joy. Real change–long standing transformation that lasts more than a few days–needs time to take hold. Authentic, deep-seated change needs space because we need to allow ourselves to get used to it. Instead of settling for immediate gratification–an instant ‘high’–we need to incorporate a new way of doing or being or thinking or seeing slowly, step by step. Sure, once it awhile going cold-turkey with something can help (like maybe when you want to quit smoking? (is it hot-turkey if you want to start?)) but that’s for some people; some of the time.
Think about how long it takes most children to learn to walk or read or how long it takes for or a musician to master a piece of music. It takes months–years, even–for movements and melodies to merge with the breath and the body.
Daylight Savings Time is a different kind of change, of course. It only lasts for seven months and is, by its very nature, a change that is seasonal; transient. The way we go about getting to where we want to be in our hearts and minds, however, is a practice we must hone our whole lives. I find myself yearning for job opportunities to turn up TODAY. I expect to be able to publish my poetry TOMORROW. I want to see my friends who I miss NOW. Sometimes, I daydream that a phone call will come in next week that will change my life. As if there is some big button to push (or a pair of ticking hands to move) that will get me to my better, more palatable future, sooner.
The truth is the only thing that will change my life is me (and some hard work and determination) and the mystery of what lies ahead can be solved only by the (regular-speed) passage of time. I might not be able to discern what time it is when I look out my window today, but I remain hopeful that each small, deliberate step I take in the direction of who and what I want to be will be enough to guide me there.