Time-graft

If you’re in one of the regions around our planet that observes Daylight Saving Time (“DST”), then you are hopefully aware that during the night just passed, we came out of DST by turning our clocks back one hour (and if you weren’t aware of that, this post may explain some scheduling misunderstandings you’ve been experiencing so far today…).

Personally, I’ve always lived in regions that observe DST, so it’s really all I know.  Whether it truly makes sense as a practice has always been a source of energetic debate, but I’ll continue to leave that to other venues.  What interests me about it here is the fact that in those areas where we do observe DST, we’re essentially “grafting” a full hour from one of our days in one part of the year onto a different day in a different part of the year, almost exactly as a surgeon would graft tissue from one part of a patient’s body to another.  Here in California, for example, we then end up with one extra-lean 23-hour day in the Spring, and then in the Fall, we get our most robust day of the year, clocking in at 25 hours (which is actually happening today, right now, as I write this).  And what intrigues me about this is the fact that while we’re manipulating our observance of time, the devices that we use for such observance — clocks and calendars — don’t really show this…

Look: no visible indicators that we cut an hour out of one month, and then stitch it onto another!  By looking at this calendar, you'd never guess many regions adhere to DST observance...
Look: no visible indicators that we cut an hour out of one month, and then stitch it onto another! By looking at this calendar, you’d never guess many regions adhere to DST observance…

Take a look at that calendar: no signs of scarring or nip/tuck-ing in the Spring to show excision of a full hour…no bulge of that same hour in November to show where it’s been patched back into the year.  The calendar, then, is a bit misleading: it would seem to imply that all days are of equal length…when that’s not actually true.  Sure, DST is widely documented as a practice, even in those places where it’s cheerfully not observed…but what if, say, an alien came down, and was trying to figure out our system of time measurement…what if that alien didn’t grasp any of our languages that well just yet, but kind of understood at least our math, and things like our clocks and our calendars…?

DST would be like this secret that we humans all know about, and that some of us make use of…but the alien probably wouldn’t understand that.  At least not for a while — not until she/he/it lived through one of the clock-change periods, and then had to cope with the reality that an entire unit of our time-keeping structure had either just fallen out of the system for no apparent reason as the clocks were pushed forward an hour, or was crammed roughly into the mix, again out of nowhere and without explanation, when they were correspondingly held back.

So in a way, it’s like we — those of us in DST-Observance Land(s) — got to enjoy an invisible, phantom hour.  And even if you used it for nothing more than grabbing some extra sleep that you might not have otherwise been able to enjoy, it was sort of like we were all invited into a secret room — a hidden little chronal chamber that only the informed would know about, where we could do anything we wanted until the regular rules kicked back in.

Which really appeals to me.  Since early childhood, I’ve been fascinated by secret passageways and hidden rooms, and I like the thought that we sort of have one built into our calendars here…even if it does mean a big lurch in the apportionment of daylight and darkness in the Spring and the Fall when we make the appropriate adjustments.  So now darkness will come significantly earlier here for a while, and it will feel a lot more like Winter — psychologically, if not in terms of the climate yet — and while I don’t always love that state of affairs (sometimes, but not always), I do always enjoy the chance to experience that bizarre grafting of a single hour that we do, patching a slice of Spring-tissue onto one Autumn day…

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