a few days ago, i listened to part of a conversation on public radio about the effects the widespread use of clocks had on people's lives. how many expressions that we use owe their existence to time-keeping devices? or, for that matter, how contradictory is the term "time-keeping?" does a device that measures time really "keep" time? we're "off the clock" or "on the clock." we've "clocked out." we rock "around the clock." we are asked if we "have the time," when what we mean is "what time does your watch tell you it is now?"
could people really be late for something before there was a precise mechanism for accurately telling what time something was to begin? before clocks, the only days that had twenty-four hours were the two equinoxes. the other days went from surise until sunset, while the nights went from sunset until the next sunrise, and the seasons determined the appropriate times for our activities, rather than a device which divided each day in twenty-four hours, each hour into sixty minutes, and each minute into sixty seconds. the rhythm of life was more natural, and chances are people moved through life more deliberately and mindfully.
i cannot imagiine what life would be like without a watch or clock. i wouldn't know when it was time to move from one activity to another, when it was time to take a break, when it was time to eat, when it was time to sleep. would i be able to rely on my senses to tell me these things? could i depend on my natural clock to say, "you've spent enough time on this, it's time to move on to something else?" would my body determine when it was time to eat or sleep, and would i be mindful enough to pay attention to my body-clock? when i'm brave enough, i'll try to spend a day without referring to a watch or clock, i'll shut off the two chiming clocks in the house, leave my watch on the dresser, and see what happens.
my prayer for this day is that we all become more mindful of our bodies and the world around us as we search for the natural rhythms of life a little more rather than relying on a mechanical or electronic devices to determine what we do with the time we're given.