By the time you read this tomorrow you will have resigned yourself to the annual “fall back”ritual of turning your clocks back an hour from daylight savings time. I tried to find the rationale for this time switch, but no clear reason is given. I thought it was to help the farmers, but they are one of the groups most opposed noting that the milk cows really don’t care about time. Then I heard it was supposed to offer more sunlight for children to walk to school in the winter mornings, but I fail to see the morning light advantage when my body, and all those children “walkers,” accustomed to waking up at 7:00 am daylight savings time, now are being dragged out at what amounts to 6:00 am Oh well, there is hope on the horizon. Congress is considering passing a Sunshine Protection Act introduced in 2022 that would maintain daylight savings time year round. Note the word “considering.” It turns out the House passed the bill unanimously last year but the Senate couldn’t agree whether to keep daylight savings time stay on “regular” time. So again our fate is somewhat dependent on breaking through another Congressional deadlock.
But as you may suspect I am not as much interested in clock change as I am with two particular aspects of how we are currently dealing with a transformed sense of time and the need to steady the changing times around us. We don’t so much need to “fall back” as to "move forward" (to really stretch my intention with the title of my blog!).
First, I have been fascinated by the reorientation to a sense of time many of us experienced during Covid, and to a certain degree since. I often find myself disoriented as to what time it is or even what day it is, and I have heard others say the same. Part of this may be aging, of course, but I do think that the long established 24 hour cycle of our days pre-Covid was significantly disrupted by our shelter-in-place regimen that confused some aspect of our sense of time by shifting our daily and weekly schedules, family rituals, and planning for seasonal gatherings. We all can agree there were positive and negative fallouts from this, but it does make us wonder how important our sense of time really is. I think we have all learned something about reorienting our lives more closely to permanent “Covid time."
Which brings me again to mention that there are at least two types or concepts of time. One is the quantitative assessment of time that can be measured, like the hours and minutes on the clock. The Greeks called this chronos time from which we get the term chronology. Once chronos time is used it cannot be returned and is lost. So we talk about time lost and efficiency in practical terms of time usage.
The other measurement of time is called kairos time. Kairos time is measured qualitatively in moments, or more accurately, specific moments, or extended moments. Kairos is the kind of time when we all of need to try to take a breath and assess what this particular moment in our lives means, to get our bearings. And this also applies to the world at large. We may not be able to satisfactorily do so, but the quest for meaning-making is hard-wired in each of us. There is an old, quaint practice among Quakers that we are encouraged to have a daily “retirement” of quiet and meditation to help settle our relationship with ourselves, others, and our Creator. I would like to consider my moments of “retirement” as healthy kairos moments, and I commend the practice to us all, however you may call it.
The whole world is now struggling with how long (chronos) we can endure the chaos of unsettled governments, climate change, wars, injustices against the poor, and challenges to our sense of hope. In the face of all the profound and unstable change that swirls around us we are seeking to observe the need to urgently preserve the opportunities to address climate change and establish a powerful commitment to world law, among our other current challenges.
But also swirling around us are the kairos moments when we recognize so much positive change in our personal lives and the world around us. Throughout the world, humanity is aware that the current status quo is not sustainable and is seeking to do something about it. I read daily of groups of people in so many different segments of life, and in all parts of the world, particularly the young, who are creating economic and structural alternatives that promote cooperation and community and challenge the exploitation and privilege of capitalism with models of shared wealth and responsibility. Read YES! Magazine, for example, or how the women religious (nuns) are challenging the hierarchy of the Roman church.
Our planet cannot “fall back” too far for too long if we are to survive. I’d like to think we can make a more solid commitment to preserve life with a theoretical concept of falling forward to “daylight savings time,” meaning that we will seek more access to the Light of love and compassion that will transform our world. May the “Force” of that Light be with each of us.