Oh fer f***’s sake, here we go again.
At this point I’m willing to join the growing chorus of Americans (who are always completely ignored because a constant disconnect between public opinion and actual public policy is a weird but permanent fact in American democracy) who say “Just keep DST year-round and stop changing the stupid clocks twice a year.”
I say this even though I personally greatly dislike DST: mornings go from slowly brightening when I get up for work to being stone-dark again, and honestly, the extra daylight at the end of the day doesn’t do me any damned good. I hear testimonies to the contrary each and every year: “It gives me more time to get my yard work done!” And I’m always thinking, “Does it? Really? Are you really out there mowing the lawn at 8:45pm?”
(The answer to this, I’ve discovered, is in quite a few cases, “Yes”, because I’ve also learned that Americans are frankly deeply weird about their lawns. But that’s a thing for another day.)
I’ve never understood the people who like it to still be sunny well after 8:00pm, and it really screws up my Circadian rhythms when from mid-June to mid-July it’s still bright enough outside to read without lighting assistance after 9:30pm. I am by temperament a night person (forced by the requirements of employment to embrace mornings, with eternal skepticism and mistrust) who needs darkness to wind down! But I also need times of darkness (physical darkness here, let’s not get all metaphorical) to really live my life. I like contrasts in my life: light and dark, hot and cold, sweet and sour, dog and cat. When DST is at its peak, there’s no contrast for me to enjoy. The beauty of deepening dusk and the following night come too late, for an entire month, to really savor.
I suppose this might go back to when I was a kid. I remember being put to bed as a kindergartner at 8:00pm when the sun was still streaming through my bedroom window, and I’ve never recovered. (This is not intended as an indictment of my parents! I get the whole “set bedtime” thing. But I found it incredibly hard to go to sleep at such times, and I still do.) But for me, now, Daylight Savings’s peak period, when it extends useful daylight almost to the time when local news is airing its late-night installments, inflicts upon me a kind of reverse-Seasonal Affective Disorder, when too much sunlight when I don’t want it gives me a feeling of general disquiet, unease, and unrest. This only goes away by late July when the shift of sunset back the other way starts to give me noticeable dusk at a time when I can notice it. This is another reason why August is my favorite summer month.
But even so…as I get older, it’s the changing of the clocks that I hate most about this dumb American policy that benefits nobody at all except our weird sun-worshiping culture. I will spend most of the coming week in a sleep-debt fog, motivation will be harder to summon up, and I will probably hit to coffee pot harder than I really should. And honestly, the “fall back” version won’t be much of a relief when it comes, either, because we’ve now set that one so far back in the year that it feels like a plunging of the world into darkness too quickly.
I don’t like Daylight Savings Time, I don’t like changing clocks, and I don’t share our society’s obsession with SUN SUN SUN. But if I have to pick my poison, I choose keeping DST and shutting down this idiocy of clock-changing. After all, as Mr. Eastwood once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”