We had a thunderstorm at 4:30 in the morning, I woke to listen for a while smiling when I realized that I didn’t know if the power had gone out or not. Gone are the days when worry about the clocks being disrupted by an interruption in electricity.
Then I wondered, how did we ever allow ourselves to become so fixated by knowing the exact time? There’s a simple answer, we moved from agrarian to industrial society.
Before the industrial revolution time keeping was less important. You worked on your farm or wove your cloth at home, to your own timetable. There were no trains to catch or business meetings to miss. You had a set amount of work to do in a day or a week and you just got on with it. Only with the introduction of factories and factory-like systems did it become important to work the hours rather than doing the tasks.
When I left the work force to stay home with my children, home schooling them, we had little need for watching a clock and began to experiment with avoiding looking for the time.
We realized that if we wanted to wake at a specific time in the morning we simply told ourselves what time we wanted to wake before falling asleep and found we woke up at the proper time. This was a relief for me as I hated being woken by the jarring sounds of an alarm clock.
How exactly does it work to tell ourselves when to wake? I don’t have a definitive answer but came across an interesting piece of research that might be connected.
We soon found it fun to look at the sky and placement of the sun to se if we could tell what time it was. I still do this today. Upon waking in the morning I often take a guess at the time and then check to see how accurate I was. I’m usually pretty close.
I can’t ignore time completely there are appointments that must be kept. My solution has been to eliminate all clocks from my home except the one on my cell phone. On that I will set appointments to notify me a half hour before I need to leave to make the appointment. This strategy keeps me from constantly checking the time but once notified by the scheduler on the phone of the appointment I have plenty of time to finish what I am doing and clean up without being rushed.
Guests to my home have mixed reactions to the absence of clocks. One in particular is jarred so much he pulls his phone out to check the time so often I joke he might as well leave the phone out. The grandchildren love the freedom they feel. They wake when they are ready and sleep when they are tired. We eat when we are hungry not when the clock tells us we are supposed to.
I don’t see the day coming any time soon when we can retire all our clocks but limiting them to specific areas of the home helps us to live more intentionally. Just because appliances or electronics in our homes have clocks doesn’t mean we have to set them and have them as a constant reminder of society’s obsession with time.