Monday, March 13, 2023

Natural Daylight Time

 "Time is an illusion." ~ Albert Einstein


As we once again adjust in the United States to "springing ahead", an increasingly common response is "Why are we doing this?". Unlike any number of articles or social media posts arising every time we change the clocks, this one is going to wholeheartedly provide some reasons to contemplate (logically, historically and organically).

It was obvious this morning.  The light was already arriving at a more natural time to wake up.  Imagine if we had stayed on standard time (which is less commonly proposed than its alternative).  Let's reflect on that first.  In a significant swath of the world, as this is relevant outside of the U.S. as well, the sun would continue to rise earlier and earlier and earlier and earlier, in a highly unpleasant way.  By the Summer Solstice in June, the sun would be rising at 4:07 AM in Boston, giving people in many places a less dramatic taste of Alaska's "midnight sun".  

Of more concern than an early sunrise, the sun would set an hour earlier than we are accustomed to.  This would scuttle many summer activities and also be a catalyst for more crime at a time of year when it is more rampant in the heat (and accidents as well).  This is actually the significantly less severe side of what would happen if we pursued the alternative approach of staying on Daylight Saving Time permanently (note there is no 's' after 'Saving', despite the temptation).  The impacts would not be a mere walk in the park.  In fact, many people would no longer be able to enjoy their lingering evening walks, because the earlier nightfall would impact the summer nighttime activities people have yearly enjoyed.

So what about the alternative?  What if we switch over to Daylight Saving Time now and never again decide to "fall back"?  The Senate in the U.S. already hastily approved this idea in 2022, and the House is now considering it, after the previous House session very wisely chose not to. Reports are mixed as to whether it would actually pass, as the House thankfully appears not to be prepared to make a hasty decision.  For those living in a southern state, the idea is much more attractive, as the tourism industry would love those year-round extra hours of evening light. There are various industries that have lobbied for permanent Daylight Saving Time.  Though I will raise some issues not discussed in this write-up, here is a good introduction to the topic overall

Most people do not realize that permanent Daylight Saving Time (on a 2-year trial basis, purportedly to save energy, which it didn't) was attempted before in the United States in 1973-74. It turned out to be a disaster, and the decision was rapidly reversed (before the 2 years ended).  A large majority of people were initially in favor of the idea, as every time we change the clocks, the transition is unpleasant.  But as soon as they experienced the unforeseen consequences, its popularity plummeted. The reasons are logical, but human beings tend to contemplate things more in terms of short-term satisfaction rather than longer-term consequences.  Yes, it is true that changing the clocks carries some observable difficulties (stated in several articles here), but these are short-lived.  Not nearly as frequently stated are the longer term impacts.  NPR provides an interesting perspective on the modern and historical context.  This fascinating article describes what happened in early 1974 when the clocks no longer changed, entitled The US Tried Permanent Daylight Saving Time in the 70's. People Hated It. 

When I was a child in early 1974, I regularly walked to elementary school at that time.  The sun would have risen after 8:15 AM that chilly January.  I have no memory of what happened.  I recall school started at 8:25 AM, so I probably started out on my walk before sunrise.  Thankfully, it was a 20 minute walk or so.  Had this persisted into the following year, when the school boundaries changed and I had much, much farther to walk, it would have been significantly more complicated.  Ironically, it was the Governor of Florida who asked that permanent Daylight Saving Time be repealed due to an early-morning accident involving children (as mentioned here).

The problem with permanent Daylight Saving Time is it has significant detrimental effects on the most vulnerable people in our society.  The same can be said in other ways (particularly crime and accidents on darker summer nights) for permanent Standard Time, but it is true the impacts of permanent Standard Time are arguably less severe.

Permanent Daylight Saving Time would not only impact children.  It would severely impact the elderly and those with disabilities.  Many elderly people avoid as much as possible being out when it is dark, particularly on the roads.  In Seattle, on December 21, 2023, if we didn't change the clocks, the sun would not rise until 8:55 AM.  Contrary to popular misconception, Seattle is not the same as Alaska (and really nowhere close to it).  In wintry climates, where it is icy, ice would linger longer into the morning, impacting the safety for everyone either walking or driving in the morning (or anyone disabled).  The elderly often have medical appointments early in the day, and they tend not to be able to navigate as well late in the day.  People are not at all accustomed to repeatedly rising in what would feel like the middle of the night, and there are actually health and cognitive effects to repeatedly doing so, some studies say (due to impacts on cortisol levels).  

"Natural daylight time" is more of a concept than a recognizable label, the concocted subject of both this post and my podcast a couple of days ago.  I promised to blog about the idea as well, but the podcast, albeit a little more fragmented than usual (as I was jumping around on my computer and got a bit frazzled), pretty much said most of it, and perhaps in some ways more directly.  That's because natural daylight time is about aligning our lives and our schedules with the sun, as much as we can manage it.  That is precisely how it felt to wake up this morning and realize the sun was much more directly aligned with my clock.  I didn't really need the clock today (I did yesterday, as I needed to get up early for a planned activity), but the light's arrival was much more aligned with a far more natural schedule.  

Observe the light in the morning, and you will see.  And yes, the extra light in the evening is very nice as we head into summer.  We need not keep it in the winter, due to what the serious sacrifices would be (most of us do not own or daily visit vacation resorts in Florida).  I for one find myself very thankful for the way we are doing things.  I've been doing this for decades (and changing springing ahead to March and falling back to November was a good compromise, as one of the articles I've listed states - I actually like that). 

We could do even better, organically.

Modern society has created continual ways that we can't control our waking times.  We are ruled by our clocks (generally on our phones these days).  How might we change things if we eased our dependency?  So many things would be very much different (including this week).  Some of us know - because we're doing it (as much as we can).

Nature photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Spiritual Reality, Material Illusion

 "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." ~ Albert Einstein


When we speak of "reality", actual reality, we are essentially engaging in our relationship with truth.  An entire world can embrace utter illusion, but that doesn't change our personal relationship with truth.

"Reality" is far too often silently prefaced with the word "material".  

That's the assumption.  

That's the illusion. 

Those of us who have objectively witnessed and studied things that cannot be explained by the illusion of "material reality" know the truth goes deeper.  A materialist might say (and this is a hypothesis that fits for materialists) any evidence of a "non-material" reality must necessarily be evidence we are living in a material simulation.  Materialism is assumed, without question, and nothing else.  The simulation hypothesis contains the convenient aspect of necessarily negating verification of ANY observation.  After all, if you are living in a simulation, how can you objectively observe and verify anything?  Anything at all?  Thus it implicitly discourages the honest exploration of reality.  It's only a hypothesis, nothing more, and it arises out of materialism.

We spend a lot of time evading exploration.  We lack the courage to consider our paradigm may be collapsing.  We even deny that paradigms have regularly collapsed, those things we assumed were true.  No doubt we would dwell on intentional evasion even more intently should observation defy our presumed constructs.

Why is spiritual reality important?  Does spirituality exist because we can observe it?  Could it even be a part of a "material illusion" if it didn't have a foundation as a "concept"?  Spiritual Reality is such a profound discovery, even to observe it is to create it.  Love is at its Center.

How tragic it is to see just how much we have sacrificed at the altar of materialism.  We also sacrifice our authenticity daily.  We pretend the Real doesn't exist to "fit in", even when we know better.  We allow everyone and everything around us to pretend it doesn't exist as well, without question.  We even immerse our children in learning about what we know is a material illusion.  And then we are surprised when spirituality is mocked - and silenced.  

We participate in the silence.  We even silently participate in the mockery.  We appear to accept it.  And so we propagate it.  We project an illusion.  And we do know better.

This isn't going to work anymore.  The material world we live in is hanging in the balance.  The materialistic paradigm appears to be nearing its final gasp. 

This is an excellent day to share some videos demonstrating what happens when materialism fails - all of our centuries of "development" have brought us to this.  I hardly have room to share them all, but I will trust my inclination.  We aren't learning enough about this, lately.  We were schooled in it well long ago.  

 This particular scene was widely viewed on "network television" in 1983.

An astonishing number of people watched The Day After.  Back then, we would have "network television events" that reached a lot of people, and people surely paid attention to this one.  It depicted just one place, but people understood it was bigger than that - the counter-attack was referenced as well, but not shown. (See War Games, below, for a demonstration - RE: "mutually assured destruction", aka "MAD".). 

I was actually more moved at the time by the quieter movie Testament, as it better demonstrated the "slow motion" personal poignancy in intensely tragic ways.  It reminds me in a way of how a family member returning rather recently from a trip described the bottles of water people still leave as an offering in Nagasaki (because people who survived could find no water to drink).

Another 1983 movie was quite popular (and considered "lighter" entertainment).  WarGames even included AI in the equation.  This is a pivotal point in the film ("Spoiler Alert"), but worth viewing.

We had a lot to think about back then - at least back then, we were given something to think about, and thinking about it was considered totally OK.  Talking about how we felt about it was fine, too.
Here is one particular way we saw the future (from a film made in 1984, though the story is older).  2010 seemed far away (yet very close).  This series also happened to famously (or infamously) contain AI, though it's not relevant to the following scene.  Other things are.
Things have "progressed" since the early 1980's, materially.  How have we progressed spiritually?  Whatever has brought us to this insane level of material ignorance (and denial) - and it's taken centuries of it - I can tell you one thing - it isn't worth it.  
It will never be worth it.   It was just as "mad" then, as it is now.  

Is Spirituality itself capable of "winning"?  Hint: Spirituality is capable of ANYTHING.  It is, after all, about mutually assured survival (aka LOVE).  

Omnipresent.  Unconditional.  And even beyond our imaginations.  Sometimes we can glimpse it.

That's Reality.  It's no illusion.

("Spoiler Alert", below.)

It's time to be open and honest about how more and more of us truly feel about it.  

Why not today?


Nature photo by Susan Larison Danz.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

A Spontaneous Return

 “It's a funny thing about comin' home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You'll realize what's changed is you.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald


I hadn't really intended to return here today, though I must admit I had thought about it, recently.  How I will return is yet to be seen.  What I know is I'm here.  I kind of stumbled into it, while doing some online "housekeeping".  And I am.

Have I changed?  We are always changing.  
There will be no more "daily writing exercises" here - my writing doesn't work that way.  I write when I write, and when I do write daily, it is not an exercise.

Given the continuing (and increasingly) unsettled state of the world, we don't always need to respond to it immediately, as if on demand.  That's what went wrong with this blog.  I started to feel like I was setting up an expectation to "write on demand", on the world's schedule, not mine, and worse yet, in alignment with whatever the "expectation of the day" happened to be.  That sort of an "exercise" does not lend itself either to authenticity or free exploration - or for that matter, to deep and honest reflection.  You will not find me echoing here "the thought of the day", whatever that happens to be, like an artificial flock of parrots. (Do uncaged parrots flock?  I really couldn't tell you.)

The blog looks the same.  It's a kind of a home.  The quote I chose for today isn't necessarily one I entirely agree with.  Usually "home", when you've been absent, does indeed change.  Some things may feel the same, but many things will be different.  And if we are noticing, we will find we too are changing.  That part of the quote is much more true.  And when we are changing, we may actually notice even "old things" in new ways - in fact, that is what we can expect, if we are noticing.
It feels good to return.  I may even be back tomorrow.

Nature photo by Susan Larison Danz.