Dalight savings time ends

When I was a child I taught myself to wake up and get up quickly. My father would occasionally come into my room and say, “If you want to go flying, I’m leaving in a minute.” I don’t every remember not wanting to go flying with my dad. I would bold from bed and get dressed in a flash. I learned to get dressed as soon as I heard his feet on the stairway, before he reached my room. For most of my life I’ve gotten up easily. When the alarm goes off, I rise and go about my business. I’m not sure that is a good practice all of the time and it definitely is not required for the lifestyle I currently lead, though it has advantages. When our children were little, I would hear them and could respond quickly to their needs. When they were older, I definitely woke when they came home a bit later than the agreed-upon time, though frankly on those nights, I usually was awake anyway.

When my wife was hospitalized and for a short time afterward, I was waking with a start. My heart would be racing and I’d be ready for action at the slightest interruption to my sleep. When I stayed with her in the hospital, I would be wide awake and out of my chair each time a nurse or technician came into the room. Now that she is home, I’ve been waking a touch more slowly. At least I don’t seem to have the racing heart and sense of panic that was a part of those earlier days.

This morning, however, there was a definite start. I heard Susan say, “It’s after 5.” One of the sets of pills that she takes is taken at eight hour intervals and we administer them at 5 am, 1 pm, and 9 pm. I was up in a flash and wide awake. I don’t sleep after five on Sundays. Then my mind processed what had happened. We have a bedside clock that I had forgotten to reset. It wasn’t after 5 by the time we are operating. My watch and my phone both displayed a time just after 4 a.m. Welcome to the end of Daylight Savings Time. Of course we need to adjust her medicine times and that can be done gradually over the course of the day.

It isn’t the first time that i’ve been a bit startled by the change in time, though I’ve been lucky and never forgotten it in the spring when to do so would mean to be really behind on a lot of important tasks.

The other time I remember forgetting about the change in clocks was many years ago. It was before we had children and we were new at serving two rural North Dakota congregations. Our first church was 17 miles away from our home, so we allowed a bit of extra time for the drive. On that particular Sunday, we got to the church and after we had been there for a while, no one else had arrived. Then it struck us. We were an hour early. It was no problem and not one was upset. Had we forgotten in the spring, they would still be telling the story of the day the preacher arrived late for church. Fortunately that has not happened to me.

I am, however, paying just a little bit less attention to time and deadlines than I usually do. Most of the time I drive my family up the wall with my need to be punctual. I like to arrive early for every appointment, and usually am pushing other family members to keep up with my desired arrival time. Last night, however, I was relaxed and comfortable arriving at an event that had a half hour social time before it began. The problem is that I had the wrong start time in my head. As we strolled into the event, most of the other people had already taken their seats. The mayor was being introduced. I was responsible for the invocation, which was still about a half hour away, but I was a bit taken aback at my tardiness. No one else noticed, not even the event organizers and MC who had to introduce me.

I guess you could say that I’ve been a slave to the clock much of my life, but it has not seemed like a problem to me. I think it would be a much bigger problem to be someone who doesn’t pay attention to time and who habitually arrives late at occasions and events.

The development of accurate timepieces was a critical factor in the process of developing systems of long distance navigation. In the days of sail transport, a ship’s chronometer was an essential device in measuring the location of the ship on the surface of the earth. The development of accurate timepieces enabled much more precise navigation.

Then, many years later, the establishment of train schedules demanded that the world go to a universal time system. Prior to what then was called by some “railroad time” each town had its own time. Noon was established by the moment when the sun reached its highest point of travel across the sky. It was known that 24 hours later the sun would once again be in the same position. Each town had its own time and a community clock, usually in a church or courthouse, established the official time for that location.

These days, our lives are filled with devices that report very accurate time. The GPS navigation system is based on extremely accurate digital clocks. Our telephones and some clocks are constantly in touch with the cellular network and in some cases multiple satellites to make sure that their read out is just right. In this world of always knowing the precise time it is a bit of a gift to have events, such as the birth of a child or even an illness, that interrupt our sense of time and remind us that time is an arbitrary invention of humans. It has a basis in observing the universe, but there is much that operates without reference to our clocks.

Welcome to standard time.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!