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Dreaming Up Ways To Use Fall Back's Extra Hour

While an extra hour is a beguiling concept, most of us will just sleep through it.
While an extra hour is a beguiling concept, most of us will just sleep through it.

We can turn back time tonight. Well, at least our clocks, for an hour, as Daylight Saving Time ends and Standard Time returns.

There's been debate as to whether we really should flip time back and forth a couple of times a year. The hour of light we gain each morning until spring just brings the darkness an hour earlier in winter; that can get grim after the holiday lights come down. And I wonder how many people will wait an extra hour for buses or planes on Monday because they forgot to turn back the clock on their rice cooker — one of many unexpected spots where clocks show their faces these days.

But the idea of having an extra hour put into your hands is beguiling. Most of us will just sleep through it, and in these days of unrelenting accessibility, an extra hour of slumber can be time well-slept.

I'd like to think that getting an extra hour on the clock is at least a little token compensation for all of the hours we have to spend in line, on hold with strangers, or on the phone with customer service representatives, case aides, and computer help-lines; or the hours we can spend just being stuck on the Long Beach Freeway, or waiting on the ground at O'Hare.

It reminds you of what Simon Stimson, the old grump who's already dead in the cemetery in Thornton Wilder's Our Town, says when he grouses, "That's what it was to be alive ... to spend and waste time as though you had a million years."

We don't. But if we had an extra hour, I think a lot of us might use it to dream of what we'd like to do with it: maybe to read a book we made the time to buy, but have never been able to find the time to read; to take a walk to no place in particular, but our eyes and ears wide open because we have no destination. I know a lot of us would like to have another hour to talk with our parents again, or pat a family pet we loved. I'd like have an hour to ride the bus down Clark St. just once more with my old 6th-grade pals — one more chance to remember and retell all the stupid jokes that made us laugh like we probably haven't since.

Maybe you could relocate the hour from the middle of the night to the middle of the day. You could use it to listen to something new, read something you're sure you'll disagree with, or stop and talk to someone whom you would otherwise pass by.

Maybe we can use that extra hour in the middle of the night as a way to ask ourselves: what would you do with your hour?

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

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