It’s Time to Talk About Time

Every February for the last five years, I have participated in an online poetry- writing challenge run by my friend, Laura Shovan. Through the challenge, a group of poets is given a broad theme for the month, 28 of us volunteer to contribute a prompt associated with the theme, and everyone writes and posts very first drafty poems to that prompt. You can learn about it and follow along at Laura’s blog, https://laurashovan.com/blog/

This year our theme was time. How timely. Here is one of my drafty poems where I recollect the frustration and visceral disconnect of being placed in a location on the globe where I could not use clues from the natural world to indicate the time of day.

Deutschland (I Would Go Back Again, Oh Yes, I Would!)

It’s one thing to up stakes
across town – quite another
to hop an ocean
take a sharp left and settle
many degrees north
leaving your only known latitude
in the basement
old clocks are unreliable
in this geospace
sun rises too early and too late
dragon shadows hunt at noon
dinner is in the dark this week
in canopy shade the next
a year into exile
you give up on the useless
time clues and you
see the optometrist
get transition lenses
for your third eye
to relieve that straining
of searching for light
in all the wrong times
in all the wrong places
you clock out
of the calendar
surrender to whatever is

Imagine my shock, dismay, ANGER at waking up, still jet-lagged from springing forward into daylight savings time, to read the Senate has passed a bill to make daylight savings time the permanent time.

I have SO. MANY. THOUGHTS. Out of respect for your time, I’ll be brief.

The senators who passed this bill by unanimous consent seem to think what will make all our lives so much better is to just have a few more hours of daylight. They want to give us regular folks the opportunity to sit in the sun, play golf, shop and visit restaurants in the evening rather then leaving work in the dark and settling in at home. My, my. They came so close to having a clue.

Put aside the fact that changing the time on the clock doesn’t change the Earth’s tilted axis, that seasons happen, that there is a finite amount of time the sun shines on a point of the globe regardless of some clock contraption, that no one’s going out for golf when the temperature is 30 degrees, etc., etc. Let’s assume these fine legislators want us all to have more time in the sun for our own sake and not for the sake of business profits. Let’s assume they genuinely care about our well-being and they understand there are myriad documented physical, social, and mental health problems associated with changing the damn clocks twice a year.

Allow me to suggest there are other, more impactful pieces of legislation to address these issues. Off the top of my head – How about a 30-hour work week? (Just like that I found, TWO extra hours of daylight without tampering with time.) How about flexible work schedules? How about adjusted hours for K-12 schools? How about increased funding for health care, including mental health, and all manner of sleep disorders? How about increasing green spaces so everyone can easily and safely access sunlight throughout the year? I could go on.

Let’s not forget we tried this experiment already. The last time we tried to have “more daylight all year round” we learned that having children waiting for school buses in the dark of night was… not a great look.

I hope the House will slow this roll. I do think the clock changing nonsense needs to go. I would love to see thoughtful debate, informed by science, guide our collective decision on what to do about time. This time.

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