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Opinion
Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Tommy Tomlinson

Not long ago we bought my 84-year-old mother-in-law a special clock.

Not only does it tell you what time it is, it tells you the date, the day, and what part of the day – morning or afternoon or night. When she moved in with us temporarily, we brought the clock with us. And now I need the dang thing more than she does.

You know that moment when you first wake up, and you’re not sure where you are or what day it is? This whole week has felt like that.

These Virus Days have wrecked the work schedules that many of us live by. And they’ve shredded the social calendars that we use to set our internal clocks.

For most of us lucky enough to still have jobs, there’s no commute – except from the bedroom to wherever you’ve parked your laptop. Getting out of the office for a lunch break means walking to the fridge to make a sandwich. Did you think you’d ever miss being stuck in traffic at rush hour? You might be missing it now.

We’ve lost the touchstones outside work, too. No more Wednesday night bowling leagues. No more mimosa-soaked Sunday brunches. This would have been the second weekend of March Madness, where the Sweet Sixteen got narrowed to the Final Four. But now the best we can do is watch old tournament games on TV.

What it all adds up to is that we’ve been thrown out of time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Tuesday or a Friday. It doesn’t matter if it’s 4 in the afternoon or 10 in the morning. Our clocks have turned into sundials. We measure our lives by the last time we showered, or how long it’s been since we wore real pants.

In our house, I’ve noticed that we are living farmers’ hours. The cat wakes us up around dawn, although we try to steal a little sleep afterwards. We start wanting supper around 5. And once it’s dark, around 8 these days, we start nodding off on the couch.

It’s not necessarily bad, this new clock we’re living by. In general, it might do us better to live more by the sun and the moon than by the glow of the smartphone alarm. I just wish we were living this way for better reasons.

We’re living in the weirdest staycation most of us will ever experience. We might not know what day it is, but we know exactly what now is like. And the thought of it is enough to knock you out of your daze.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column normally runs every Monday on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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