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The Time of Our Lives

Tomorrow, the weatherman tells us, will be another perfect spring day just like today. The Bradford pear trees are in bloom, the breeze is gentle, the redbuds are sprouting, the sky is a gentle blue. But tomorrow, our perfect spring day will be cut short by one hour.

The US Congress has moved the start of Daylight Savings Time up by three weeks. Tonight we set our clocks ahead by one hour, acting as though we mechanically minded humans could control real time. Why? Who knows? There was no public information given even to let us know this was being considered.

I can still remember the first Daylight Savings Time weekend. My fellow Sunday School students and I stood in the foyer of the First Methodist Church in a small Texas town, talking about this remarkable event. Lawmakers were changing the time. It was to save energy, we were told. Our parents shook their heads, but did not question it. We grew used to DST, those extra long summer days, those dark spring mornings that should have been lighter and brighter, but I, for one, never grew to like DST or those first few days of disorientation after the "switchings" took place. ("Spring forward," they told us, when we gave up an hour in the spring, and "Fall backward," when we retrieved our hour in the fall.) Then, as now, there was no vote by the people on this decision, nor on the dates chosen to start and end DST.

In the many years since those Sunday School days, I have come to feel deeply the meaning of the proverb, "The way you spend your minutes is the way you spend your life." How we spend our time is not about clocks or efficiency, oil or electricity. It's about life, and what we choose to do with the time we have to live our lives.

Tonight, yet again, I find my life cut short by 60 minutes, without anyone even consulting me. What does freedom mean, if one has no say over one's time? This is no less important than free speech, or privacy, or civil rights. Don't worry, people say, we get the hour back in October.

Do we? Are any two hours of our lives the same? How can one hour at the end of October be the same as an hour in early March? Any red-breasted Robin would tell you it can't be. Our hours should be ours, owned by our flesh and bone, governed by the sun, the moon, the stars--not a Congress playing games with clocks.

Text and Image, copyright Ysabel de la Rosa, 2007.

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