The Time Change Brain Slam
By James Donahue
Today marks yet another mental adjustment to a seasonal switch to daylight savings
time. It is an exercise in personal torture for people all over the United States and some countries abroad who have to force
their bodies to shift their inner clocks by an hour.
We all know the drill. In the spring we “spring forward,” which means
we turn our clocks ahead late on Saturday, and give ourselves one day, Sunday, to try to adjust to the loss of an hour of
time in our lives. That is supposed to make it easier when the alarm clock goes off on Monday morning and we crawl out of
our beds for whatever routine we have established for our lives.
In the fall we “fall back.” I
always preferred the autumn time switch because it gave us that lost hour back. But the body clock didn’t seem to like
this switch any more than it did the spring change. It always takes me weeks to get adjusted and I have a difficult time being
aware of the time of day in which I am operating.
The concept of Daylight Savings Time was dreamed up years ago as a way to save energy.
It was believed that by adjusting activities to best utilize natural sunlight, we used less energy in our homes. But tests
have shown this was not true. We still turn on our bathroom lights and draw water heated by electric or gas water heaters
to take showers, we use electric shavers, electric hair driers, make our food on electric or gas appliances and kick on our
electric televisions to get the morning news like always. There is no energy savings whatsoever.
I think the real reason for daylight savings time is to give rich guys who like to
play golf or tennis more afternoon time to participate in outdoor leisure activities, and do it earlier in the spring and
later in the fall.
I remember that when the idea was being proposed by legislators back in the 1960s,
Michigan residents petitioned to put the issue on the ballot. They voted it down handily. The majority of the people did not
like the idea of being tortured twice a year by time changes. But in the end the state legislators voted to do it anyway “on
an experimental basis.” It was no experiment. Daylight Savings Time became permanent for almost everybody.
When my wife and I had our adventures in Arizona, and lived for a while with a Navajo
medicine man and his wife on the reservation, we were delighted to discover that the Navajo technically have their own nation
spanning large portions of the adjoining states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Because of this arrangement, the
Navajo people did not have to comply with the laws established for the rest of the United States. And they were smart enough
to reject the whole concept of Daylight Savings Time.
While we lived on the reservation, the clocks remained the same all year. Nobody
ever had to change them. Once we moved off the reservation, however, we found that the rest of the State of Arizona was suffering
under Daylight Savings Time.
I have never been able to understand why Americans accepted that twice-a-year torture
without a fight. It has crossed my mind that the whole thing was a successful experiment in mass mind control. It obviously
worked. We have all gone along with this silliness twice each year like cattle.
I thought when I retired and no longer had to roll out of bed and go off to work,
the time change would have less effect on my life. But this has not proven to be the case. Our life cycles are affected by
everything the rest of the world around us is doing. If I try to rebel and not change the clocks, I find myself out of synch.
Unless we can be satisfied with being a hermit and living in isolation from the rest
of society, it appears that we just have to accept those damned time shifts.