Monday, November 2, 2009

The Chicken Time

This morning driving my daughter to school, I got stuck in a traffic jam.
Since Sunday was daylight time saving change back to normal, I was expecting the Monday morning traffic to be lighter than usual but then again, traffic in LA it is never to be expected light.
Having the time and not much to talk about we started talking about time and what “daylight saving time” is.

Long time a go we – the people - had a different way of looking and interacting with time…
I remember growing up on my grandparents’ farm.
Nobody had a watch.
The only time keeping piece we had, was this massive pendulum clock on the hall way.
And that was one of the few clocks in the village.

People told time by the church bell strokes, by the passing of the local trains and when too far in the field by the shadow of the sun on the ground.
(Mid day is when the shadow is the shortest – I still remember that :)
We woke up in the morning when the Rooster sang and we went to bed with the chicken – I mean when they did :)
I call that - living by the “Chicken Time”

Time was “organic” then.
We woke up at incrementally different time each day as the day grew longer and conversely each day latter, when the days were getting shorter.
In the summer the day were long and filled with a lot of work and play.
In the winter the days shrunk to a blink of an eye.
There was little work to do and we spend the cold days mostly inside gathering around the fire place, listening to stories or celebrating the holydays.

We never considered the day as a “fix” amount of time.
We wrapped our lives around the day light without regard to what the clock was saying.
That was the way we lived for hundred of thousand, or even more, years until we entered the “technological” revolution of the modern era.

The advent of industrial manufacturing, the rise of cities and industries meant that the old “organic” relationship with time had to change.
No longer “time” served us but we became servants of the time.

We invented the kerosene lamp, the gas lamp and finally the electric lamp.
We changed the night into the day and wrap our lives around “time” in a “mechanical” way never experienced before.
Life did not longer dictate the flow of time.
The flow of time through that mechanical conductor “the clock” dictates the flow of life.

Of course there are some rare cases when this “mechanical” time shows its ugly side.
There are some people super sensitive to this artificial arrangement – and consequently we invented some “disease” to explain their problem with adapting to this artificial time arrangement, but in large our science – which boasts how “objective” and “impartial” is – never studied the effects of this “mechanical” time on our “organic” clocks, on our physiology and our psychology.

Of course when turning night into day got to eat at the industry’s “profits” we remember that once upon a time the “sun” offered free light and we invented the “daylight saving time” which is nothing more than a bastardized form of the old ”organic” time arrangement.
So now if your kids are going to ask about the “daylight saving time” you can tell them the story about how once upon a time people lived by the “Chicken Time”


Lydia said...

It's a great story. And rare, too. Because you didn't grow up in the U.S. your upbringing more resembled a much earlier time in history than most Americans in your age group experienced. That's why your story is so's current, but ancient.

Quantum_Flux said...

Consider my heart warmed and my mind enlightened by your story BoH. I've decided to work on this one, I'll keep this in the back of my mind when innovating things.

Buddha of Hollywood said...

@ Lydia - I never thought I would say this, but in a way being "ancient" is not bad at all :)

@ Quantum - Science and technology should serve humanity - always - not the other way around - I concur :)

Argent said...

I've thought for a long time that we should go back to what you call chicken time. In the early 70s, we had power cuts here and it was the most exciting time for us kids as we, as a whole family, were forced to spend time interacting rather than watching TV ro whatever. We got to play cards together and talk. My mum lit some candles and I can still remember that time as more magical than the rest of it.