In the past month I’ve flown from Central Time to Pacific Time to Eastern Time to Central Time to Pacific Time to Central Time…. I’ve pretty much lost track of the date and the time. There must be a name for this circadian disorder. My 24-hour rhythms are all messed up. So are my husband’s. Andy calls me at 8AM his time and I snore a hello into the phone. He exclaims, “You’re still asleep at 9AM?” Then he groans an apologetic “Oh” remembering I’m not in Baltimore, but in Seattle where it’s 6AM.
As much as hopping around time zones can mess with my sleep patterns and my planetary orientation, I love travel and the attention it requires. I have to be alert so I don’t miss a plane. Changes in temperature and climate affect my packing decisions. I notice my surroundings more–the lush gardens and the long hours of light in the Northwest; the humid, sunny days on the East Coast; the heavy, endless heat of the South. Sometimes I have to find ways to stay awake longer than usual so I don’t wake in the middle of the night. All of these variations and variables require attention.
When I stay in one place too long my senses go numb. One day merges into the next. I miss the color of the vegetation, the changes in temperature and light, and both the floral and industrial smells of my city. I fail to notice the subtle improvements and the subtle declines in the town where I live. I become complacent.
I can’t help but think of the many parables in which Jesus says, “Keep Awake” or “Stay Alert.” Matthew 25 and Mark 13 are two examples. Jesus reminds us ‘”Keep awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13 NRSV) Sometimes, I literally don’t the know the day or hour. But whether my circadian rhythms are in or out of sync, I certainly don’t know my final day or hour or THE final day or hour. So I’ll try to practice staying awake and alert at all times and in all time zones–with a little sleep thrown in for good measure and good mood.
Drawing: Sybil MacBeth