Find your own rhythm.

Rise of the Machines

Dr. Robert K. Cooper, in his book Get Out of Your Own Way, says:

“But a clock-based sense of time has literally made its way into our bodies and brains. For example, if we sleep in a room where a clock ticks, our hearts adjust their beating to the ticking of the clock: sixty beats a minute instead of the more desirable thirty or forty beats that we would experience if the heart found its own rhythm- and which would be much better for deep rest and restoration.

“Our innate rhythmic orientation goes haywire when the clock takes over. We worry when we’re late, we space out when we’re early. Life becomes about keeping time instead of living to the fullest.”

I read that and thought, “Holy crap! The machines are controlling us!”

I eyed the cheap ticking clock I had sitting a few feet away and thought about the number of times I had glanced at it in the past hour. I thought about my sleep pattern and how I seldom felt rested when I got up. Then there were the days that I had to get up before I wanted and felt dopey and spaced out the whole day.

I swear I heard a mechanical voice whisper, “Resistance is futile.”

Since reading Cooper’s book, I have been aware that anytime I have to be somewhere at a specific time, my stress level ramps up. It doesn’t matter that I left forty-five minutes early for a drive that takes less than thirty. I worry that I am going to be late. I check the clock, sometimes five or six times in under a minute.

I am scheduled to work tonight, hours from now, and I have just checked the clock three times in the last three minutes. This behavior annoys me now I’m aware of why I’m doing it and I have been taking steps to eliminate the clock from my life.

I’ve stopped timing myself when I meditate or walk, nor do I measure the distance. Right now, I’m working on getting into a job that allows me to set my own schedule to do what I want, when I want, and where I want, so I can ignore the clock altogether.

Cooper says, “We take working by the clock for granted now as the model of how businesses should be run. But even in recent American history, that model was vehemently rejected. In the 1860s, New England textile mills began harnessing the power of steam engines to drive mass-production looms. To make the most of that technology, it was necessary to ensure reliable attendance by the mill workers, so the owners of the mill posted a new set of rules: All weavers were to enter the plant at the same time, after which the gates would be locked until the end of the workday.

“Deeply offended by what they called a “system of slavery,” the weavers – who until then had worked whatever hours they pleased – went on strike. The rules were withdrawn, and it was not until several years later that they could be successfully reintroduced.”

Well if that is the case, and Dr. Cooper cites his sources, why did it stop being slavery? What changed?

The answer to that: perspective. The worker’s perspectives changed because someone convinced them it was okay to give up a little of their freedom for a pay check.

Giving up that little bit of freedom didn’t help the mill workers. They were doing fine before. The people it helped were the mill owners and investors. The people with money who wanted more money and were willing to compromise some freedoms to get it.

The problem is, those mill workers passed those chains down to their children who passed them to us. We didn’t have a choice in the matter since we didn’t know any better and we accepted them without protest because that is they way it’s always been. After all what’s a little slavery if it makes the shareholders happy?

The clock’s subtle tick, tick, tick stopped being part of the background noise. I glared at it. Then I got up and pulled the batteries.

If Captain Picard could get out of their clutches, then so can I.