Completely Subjective: Jill Bialosky’s “Daylight Savings”
Daylight savings, the event, not the poem, annually both bequeaths upon and steals away from us an hour. The significance of one hour has been rapidly both declining and growing over the years.
With the increase in technology, more and more can be done in one hour. In the olden days, an hour could buy you a trip to the next town over, your old horse-drawn carriage bumping and creaking down twisty dirt paths, stopping occasionally to water the horses or ask for directions, yet today an hour could buy you a trip from Darien to Romania or Argentina. Where an hour could once buy you a few dozen miles of travel for a letter, now thousands of people can have conversations from all across the world and outer space, in a mere sixtieth of an hour.
Yet we have also been rapidly losing these precious units of time. An hour is merely three twenty minute episodes and when you’ve recently been sucked into a new series, many hours will be divided up this way and lost in a haze of blue light and meaningless noise. Hours tend to creep away into the internet, innocently poking at a youtube video, which then contains another youtube video in a link in the description which recommends another video which has a sequel and there’s a whole mini series about this other topic and where do all the hours go?
Charles Darwin once said that “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” This is never exemplified better than in “Daylight Savings,” the poem this time. It details the various trials and tribulations of motherhood, an experience we’ve only ever been on the receiving end of. “The hour when without us they might die” is an hour that leaps out at me, because while any odd event may seem perfectly safe and normal to one on the receiving end of motherhood, this very same event could very well be life-or-death for either party without the knowledge of one or the other. Motherhood somehow seems to overcome the meaninglessness that’s threatening to overwhelm our increasingly trivial uses of time, defining each hour with life and death, success and failure, love and loss, and making each and every hour so precious that even the light of the sun itself cannot compare.
The endless lilting strings of hours march on, a melody of love and care, interspersed with challenges and journeys, stretching endlessly into a future of strong children, growing ever taller through the attention and devotion of their mothers, countless hours pouring into the ultimate investment, the kind of investment that becomes so all-encompassing in a parent’s life that every waking moment is bursting with bouquets of possible ways to brighten their child’s day, so much so that their child becomes a reflection of their very soul itself, echoing their every joy back upon themselves in a positive feedback loop of love, overcoming the shackles of space and time and death and loving through thick and thin and light and dark and filling up every hour with sunshine, regardless of the presence or absence of daylight.
Daylight savings, the poem, not the event, bequeaths and does not steal away the meaning of an hour. It bestows enough significance upon every hour to overcome the annual loss. However, one thing Bialosky never mentions, is that every year, Daylight savings returns the hour, eight months later, when we need it the most, like an investment that takes without permission and gives without debt, filling our lives with that much more sunshine, the hour that most people intend to spend sleeping or setting all the clocks, but could be spent in so many amazing ways because an hour-long conversation can restore someone’s faith, an hour-long interaction can save someone’s life, an hour-long study session can rescue someone’s grades, and an hour-long writing session can give you this paper. Every hour has meaning, if you chose to bestow meaning upon it, the way daylight saving bestowed this hour upon you.