Timeshift

‘There’s been a timeshift’ Sarah said this morning as we went around adjusting the clocks that won’t adjust themselves. A curious ritual that takes place twice a year and sounds like a science fiction novel:

“TIMESHIFT, the strange alien world where everybody gets older or younger at the whim of ‘them’. The hidden, sinister elders who control the hands of time and the lives of everyone forced to believe that this ‘time’ of their’s is real.”

Years ago, when I had a job these ‘clocks changing’ days used to really annoy me. I’d feel robbed by ‘Spring forward’ and just as irritated by ‘Fall back’. These days it doesn’t bother me so much. Because I don’t believe in time.

Which is to say, I don’t believe in the falsely imposed ‘standard time’ which came in with railways and the industrial revolution. To make us all obedient and turn up for work ‘on time.’

I believe in the passage of time, in Springtime, and Autumn. How could you not? I believe in the dying back of plants and lives. And new growth and babies. I even believe in night and day and the clearly observable fact that the days are getting shorter now.

Late in the year, the sun low in the sky. Clearly true.

Late in the year, the sun low in the sky. Clearly true.

Days of lengthening shadows.

Days of lengthening shadows.

Obvious and observable.

Obvious and observable.

But writing this, at what is today called ‘ten past seven’ in the evening, how can I believe in time? When yesterday this ‘time’ would have been called ‘ten past eight?’

There hasn’t really been a timeshift, you see. We all just collectively agree to behave as if there has.

But me? I’ll go to sleep when I’m tired and I’ll get up when the light wakes me. That’s how it is these days, mostly. Except for the days when, for reasons of work or friendship I need to go and meet a time-believer. I’ll set my time-alarm and turn up ‘on time.’ But I don’t believe in time, I’m just going along with it to keep people happy.

And in thinking like this, I’m in tune with the way most of the people who have ever lived on the Earth have thought. Living in tune with the rhythm of the seasons. Doing less work in the dark days, because it’s dark. And doing most of my work when it suits me, because no one owns my ‘time.’

When the leaves are on the ground, the days get shorter. Always happens.

When the leaves are on the ground, the days get shorter. Always happens.

New life begins and old life ends. Always has.

New life begins and old life ends. Always has.

Even when this idea of ‘time’ was first imposed it would be a local version of it. So that everyone in, say, Hastings would be operating at roughly the same ‘time.’ But Hastings ‘time’ and Liverpool ‘time’ would have no reason to be connected. It was only the connection of the railways brought that about.

And I’m well aware that this will all sound more than a little crazy, anarchic even. And that most people in their jobs and schools simply don’t have the luxury of thinking like this. But that’s because we’ve become a society that’s addicted to ‘time,’ allows itself to be dominated by ‘time.’ We even send ourselves on time-management courses. I know, I’ve been. But I’m all right now, and not dominated or annoyed by these weird ‘timeshift’ days anymore. Because it’s my life. And whilst I’m enjoying the passage of time, I’m not tapping impatiently on my watch and saying ‘High time those last leaves dropped from that tree!’ Because that would be crazy. Wouldn’t it?

Walking along Lark Lane, enjoying the afternoon light.

Walking along Lark Lane, enjoying the afternoon light.

Enjoying the trees in the Park.

Enjoying the trees in the Park.

The wonder of the leaves.

The wonder of the leaves.

In the Park they’re getting ready for the time of the year when everyone enjoys playing with ideas of time and life and death, Halloween.

The Lanterns Parade is coming. There will be costumes and magic and skeletons.

The Lanterns Parade is coming. There will be costumes and magic and skeletons.

And there will be fire.

And there will be fire.

Like we had today, as it got dark on Plot 44, Sarah's Allotment.

Like we had today, as it got dark on Plot 44, Sarah’s Allotment.

Sarah calls it a ‘liminal space.’ Where the borders of life and death are not so sharply drawn. Where ‘time’ is not all it sometimes appears to be. People love it.

So, see you at the Lanterns this Friday evening? Starts at 6:30pm, in the current version of time we’re being asked to believe in. For the next few months anyway.

Ideas about time in this post heavily influenced by one of my favourite writers, Jay Griffiths, in her book ‘Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time.’ See, I’m not the only one.

7 thoughts on “Timeshift

    1. Jimmy Mo

      Well… I’m pretty sure Time isn’t man made. How we present and define time is mad made, but time itself will continue along quite nicely as it has done for 13.7B years (or whichever unit you wish to use!) and as it will til the final end of the universe. It’s not something that requires the belief of men anymore than I need to believe in distance or mass for these things to be real. Cause thankfully precedes effect.

      What we’ve become very good at is simply dividing time into smaller and more tightly synchronised units of time, and this has tied us to time tighter and tighter. Breaking free from this shackle is no small task, but it’s worth it and it’s a real pleasure once in a while to take off the watch, hide the phone, get on the bike and just see what happens..

      Reply
      1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

        Well said Jimmy. So, phone off, watch off, I’m walking down to the library to see what stories and ideas await me there. And it’ll take as much time as it takes.

  1. Jan Hasak

    The lanterns looks stunning. Wish time could transport me there in an instant. Our timeshift, at least in most parts of the States, is next weekend. Who knows why they changed it? It used to be the same weekend as yours. Well, no matter. I already know the days are getting shorter and the light more subtle. I appreciate your philosophy as much as your photography. Time marches on. Cheers, Jan

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Time does march on, Jan. But if our time is our own we can, as Jimmy Mo says on here, ‘break free’ now and then. Today I went to the library, helped Sarah a bit at her allotment, and I even did some work – when I felt like it and at my own pace!

      Reply
      1. Jan Hasak

        Good for you, Ronnie. I also went to the library today, and then I set up my spanking-new china cabinet with stuff that’s been sitting in a closet for over a year. And, like you, I did it when I felt like it and at my own pace. It feels so empowering–and a bit rebellious–, doesn’t it?

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