Machine Time

Punctuality was personal.

An old fashioned point of pride, being on time meant that you were well bred, capable, respectful and trustworthy. Not surprisingly, the whole idea of time now stresses me out.

It's bad enough that the days themselves are moving so quickly. I've recently noticed that my life is set by a clock of pure monkey madness.

I'm not alone.

Looking back into our twentieth century time capsule, the descent is easy to trace.

In order to feed the machinery of the industrial revolution, we reset the clocks of heaven and earth. When monkeys migrated from farm to city to labor on machines, we ended up spinning modern myths, sacrificing our celestial rhythms on the altar of material progress.

Ancient rhythms were replaced with a mechanical clock that promised social reward, physical security and a guaranteed spot at the feed trough. We abandoned our citizenship of the sun, substituting a little glass face and ticking dials, in order to take up our spots on modern production lines.

Is it any wonder that we lost all sense of time?

We detached ourselves from the rhythms that move the planet and the seas, animals, plants and stars around it. The closer we moved to the machines, the more we were not subjects of the earth, merely here to consume and rule it, trashing it in the process, and then somehow moving on?

Where exactly?

We substituted clever monkey stories for the intractable laws of nature, and in turn, we ended up denying our physical reality to the nether reaches of insanity.

Check this out.

For the hot rock that we're living on, the longest day of light ends somewhere around June 21st. (Northern hemisphere.) Then, slowly, the days get progressively shorter and nights longer until December 21st or thereabouts. Then, the days start to get longer again.

The entire planet is aligned with this cycle, moving along the same path of light to dark to light again. Everything that has life, has a relationship to this flow of light and dark.

Except for the wacky hairless monkeys.

We invented machines and in order to keep up with them, we decoupled time from life on the planet.

See the power of this creative exchange in the cartoon of The Sorcerer's Apprentice. http://bit.ly/NeWs9

In order to sell this new kind of time, we rewrote the myths of living and reinforced them with an upside down schedule of celebrations and rituals.

We celebrate the "beginning" of summer at the end of the school year, with remembering the war dead. Nothing wrong about celebrating the dead. I'm a big fan actually, up there with Mother's Day and the rising of the dead in the spring.

However, just as the lights are beginning to dim for every living thing, we're gearing up for water sports, gardening and night time baseball games.

Then we mark the "end" of summer by honoring labor, and scheduling one last barbeque before the kids begin their annual cycle of standardized testing. Big shopping opportunity and a sigh of relief from the stay at home moms and dads. Our factory life resumes with commute, meet, eat, meet, commute, eat, sleep.

Fall comes and we briefly relive our glory days in college with the beginning of football season.

Meanwhile the days are visibly shortening, growing colder and darker. The equinox passes with absolutely no notice. We are at the halfway point to the darkest day of winter, when all of creation is turning inward, slowing down, withdrawing, reflecting.

What's up with the monkeys? We're tailgating.

Reflecting to some extent as the leaves drop from the trees, we're wondering whether our prayers will be answered for a last minute touch down and the accompanying satisfaction that heaven is actually on board with our favorite team.

Time for another celebration of the dead. Now we're checking in with the larger than life aspects of the paranormal. The fantastic stories of heroes, action figures with super powers, royalty, talking animals, ghouls and ghosts of all manner. The veil between the worlds of shadow and light are at their thinnest now and we peer into the darkness to see our personal ghosts waving 'Hi'.

And we hand them a candy bar.

Next we're sliding towards the end of the year with an orgy of food - ostensibly to celebrate our successful harvest and bow our heads briefly in gratitude for the astounding prosperity we're enjoying.

A small number step out of their comfortable nests to briefly imagine the lives of the thousands of people living without the security of food and shelter. This momentary reflection on the suffering of others interrupts their day and then the reality of those lives slips away, followed by the secret relief that they can charitably visit but don't have to stay.

(Never mind the starkly tragic facts of history that underpin our feasting. We're encouraged to look away from our role in the decimation of the indigenous first Americans, who were repeatedly betrayed, rounded up, imprisoned, robbed and often slaughtered in order to create our "free" country. Not the story we're encouraged to tell at the table. Turkey anyone?)

Ironically, after celebrating the dead for months, we now kick into high gear to override the darkening days with a hysteria unmatched during the rest of the year.

The "return of the sun", a phenomenon of celestial timing first marked by our earliest predecessors, has been transformed into alternating currents of hectic activity and despondent cynicism. An unnaturally fueled bipolar express, cue reindeer and elves, moronic jingles, peppermint everything, and expectations running amok.

So many great things have been said about this season. And there are reasons to celebrate the return of the sun.

Only there never seems to be enough time?

If you're curious about winter solstice http://bit.ly/lOPt

Suffice to say however, purely from a timing perspective, really, this whole machine driven season can be so nuts.

Personally, I imagine the end of hibernation as the opposite of hysteria. It's a gradual awakening, bit by bit, the light slowly increasing a few minutes per day. Family rituals to celebrate mythical childhoods don't appear on my list of gentle awakenings.

One last hurrah to wave goodbye to another cycle and greet the new year ahead. We honor the monkey made clock again with resolve to set our worldly efforts down a path of redemption. At least the days are getting longer and we're briefly aligned in some regard with a new season of beginning.

As we approach the balancing point of light and dark, our rituals momentarily align with that most amazing moment of creation, the return of life.

The equinox passes with less remark or little notice. More on Equinox http://bit.ly/2qHKU1

It seems odd to me that rebirth might be the most under represented of all the seasons in terms of modern commercial play. With the exception of cleaning, little homage is paid to the miracle of life's reawakening. Perhaps its metaphysical roots keep it veiled? Or its associations with procreation are prudishly set aside to maintain a G rating?

Rising from the dead is too cool to be underplayed. Resplendent with myth, story and symbolism, check out eggs and rabbits. Maybe March Madness could be construed as an explosive celebration of the rites of spring?

No natural hook for marketing in the resurrection of life beyond basketball, bonnets and parades, we move through monkey graduation rituals and on to the pursuit of the perfect beach body, adequate sunscreen protection and novels of intrigue.

If we take time at all.

The light continues to lengthen until the 21st of June or thereabouts. Then at the Solstice, the light begins to shorten and we return to the darkness to await the return of the sun.

Nothing of this cycle is apparent from the factory floor, the claustrophobic cubicle, the jam packed freeway, the crammed parking lot, the concrete classroom, the asphalt runway of the modern machine life.

Our little clocks ticking, we dance faster and faster in smaller and smaller circles.

Days shorten unnoticed. Leaves drift quietly. Time to reflect.

I'm probably late.

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