Last night we set our clocks back an hour, pushing the sunset time in Denver back to 4:57 pm. For the next three an a half months, the darkest part of the year, the sun will set before 5 pm.
Daylight Savings Time is the practice of making seasonal adjustments to the clock by setting them forward an hour in the spring and back an hour in the fall to try to optimize our use of time. The history and current debate surrounding it is fascinating. Perhaps not too surprisingly, it has only been around a little over 100 years. It’s hard to imagine its utility in a primarily agrarian society.
It is also not practiced worldwide.
Adjusting clocks would be of little utility near the equator, where there isn’t much variance in the amount of daylight per day.
Shifting our clocks back did not make our days any darker. However, it did serve as a reminder of how much shorter our days have gotten. Factor in the inevitable chilly mornings in Colorado’s dry climate and the amount of time available for activities is relatively scarce, even on nice days like today (temperatures in the area reached approximately 73°F/ 23°C). Today’s 53 mile (85 km) bike ride was a way to do what is possible with the 7-8 hours of warm daylight available on this first day of November.
The idea of “doing what you can” given the circumstances is the key to surviving 2020 emotionally. It was first seen in the springtime, when this all began, in people’s front lawns and in parks.
Offices were suddenly closed and so were bars and restaurants. The idea of inviting people into your home suddenly became a dangerous proposition. People still found a way. These creative socially distanced hangouts were a reminder that our spirit had not been suddenly depleted.
Over the course of the year, we found a way to keep the shelves of our grocery stores stocked. Hundreds of millions of people figured out ways to perform their jobs and coordinate with their coworkers remotely. Old friends connected over Zoom. The NBA famously created a “bubble” so that they could play a shortened summer season. And, we found joy in activities closer to home.
The situation most of the world finds itself in feels reminiscent of this 50-60 mile bike ride on the first of November. The possibilities are quite limited and there are a lot of complicated factors. I can’t wave a magic wand and make the pandemic go away, make everyone feel as if their life matters, instantly rearrange our use of smartphones and social media to something that serves our humanity better and make politics less divisive (or less important). All I can do is do my best with what is in front of me right now. Often there is too much focus on those doing terrible things. However, from miracles like saving our global supply chains, to things like virtual concerts or even just simply emotionally supporting one another, there are many more people doing what they can and making 2020 less awful than it otherwise would have been.