I know it’s a cliché, I know it comes up twice a year. National Jet Lag, messing with the sun, playing God, imposing chronological control, keeping the farmers happy, eliminates Seasonally Affected Disorder and winter depression. Still.
Daylight Savings Time. A little earlier every year. Pretty soon it will be light all the time. I miss those days when the sun started diminishing around 4 p.m. and didn’t appear again until eight the next morning. Easier times in a better world, saner, more natural, darker. So, it’s really supposed to be 6:33 but I know it’s 5:33 and my body is a little pissed off. I feel robbed, hijacked and unstable. Wow; daylight, more of it, more glare and dazzle. Much overrated, the long days.
In parts of Europe, in the deep canyons of Paris for instance, the dusk begins in the late afternoon; it is full dark by 5 p.m. and people do not begin going out to dinner until 8. The mark of civilization is when one can postpone dinner until nighttime, walk to a restaurant, linger over a meal for 2 or 3 hours and get home near midnight without complaining about fatigue, sleep, getting up for work, or how tired we have become.
My local conspiracy theorists tell me that this is another goddamn government plot to manipulate us, to control when and how we wake up and go to sleep and it is related to chem-trails and the fascist demand that we remove our shoes in airports. We are cattle and they, who every “they” are, Hillary, Cheney, are poisoning us, controlling the way we dress and the air we breath and even the length of our days.
Too much crime happening at night? Fuck it, lets eliminate nighttime and then we’ll be able to identify and run down and kill the perpetrators in broad daylight. We can see what we’re shooting at. Much easier. Safer for all.
Daylight allows me to focus too far into the distance for too long. Crowds of people and traffic and roadside trash are all quietly thinned out, sometimes obliterated as the day declines and the night dims the harshness of reality. I don’t mind the daytime, it’s OK with its brightness and bustle, but night is quieter and I have to concentrate a bit more and am more aware of my environment; mystery lives in the middle of the night.
But Daylight Savings Time has arrived and I’ll awake, groggy and disoriented for a week or so.
I once worked for a large institution and I used to wonder why people used DST as an excuse to be late twice a year. Twice a year these idiots trotted out the stupid excuse that they didn’t set their clocks, didn’t know about DST, they were late, we had to understand that it wasn’t their fault, we had to let them slide. Didn’t they think, before formulating their clever ruse, that one day each year, if indeed the clock and the time change were responsible for their moronic display of arrogance, once a year they should be early? Spring forward, idiot, but Fall behind? No? And truly, it was the same pinheads year after year.
I was born at 2:46 a.m. In November. I’ve often wondered if that’s the reason I’m so drawn to the nocturnal. I left the hospital on what was most likely a winter day; it may have been nighttime or cloudy and overcast. Was my earliest memory of the outside world, one of cool shadows and a lowering sky? I know several people whose birthdays are in the summer, dazzling July or sweltering August and they look forward to DST because of the light. I dismiss them as needy, insecure neurotics who have to see everything, who cannot stand to be alone in a dark room.
You like light? Turn one on. Brighten up your home with candles and light fixtures; replace all your 60-watt bulbs with 100 or 150 watts. Hang warehouse-grade fluorescent tubes, spotlights. Control your environment and leave me alone in the natural world of solar rhythms and regularities.
Last night, around ten p.m., I stepped outside to look at the moon. A starry cloudless sky with a three-quarter moon benignly illuminating the mountains in the distance. I stared at the moon for five straight minutes, peaceful and serene.
Try that with the sun.