Stonehenge, Siri and the passage of time


Most experts agree Stonehenge was built, in part, to help track the passage of time.

It’s hard to say for sure, because whoever built it didn’t leave an instruction manual. Either that, or some guy tossed the directions aside and tried to figure out how to work the thing himself.

Stonehenge is one of many tools folks have come up with over the years to establish a sense of time and place. Sundials were constructed to help keep track of the hours in a day. The Mayans and Romans were among the ancient civilizations that set up calendars to track the passage of months and years.

In our digital world, it’s easy to take time tracking for granted. From where I sit, I can see the time on my computer screen and my cellphone. When we spring forward or fall back, my devices automatically adjust. All these screens wired to some central clock I assume is located in Cupertino. The only clock in my house that doesn’t get the memo is the one on the microwave, which lives on Eastern Standard Time year round.

Clocks on phone screens have had the unintended consequence of rendering the trusty wristwatch obsolete. Those who wear them do so either out of habit, a desire to be fashionable or for sentimental reasons.

One day the watch might join the time and temperature telephone number on the scrapheap of history. Yes, kids, there was once a phone number you could call to find out the time and temperature so you could set your watch and wardrobe accordingly. Now we just ask Siri what time it is and what we should wear.

I may never have to ask anyone what time it is, but keeping track of the month and date has become a challenge in the Age of Coronavirus. Up until mid-March or so, I wasn’t aware of just how dependent I was on sports as a method of helping me track the passage of time.

New Year’s Day bowl games usher in, well, a new year. Next comes the Super Bowl, and then the Daytona 500 rolls around about the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training. March Madness, Major League Baseball’s opening day and The Masters signal the start of spring. The Kentucky Derby means it’s time to buy Mother’s Day presents, and so on and so forth.

So this year I was good until mid-March when everything in the sports world came to an abrupt halt. Now I’m like a sailor on the open sea, careening across an ocean of time with no land in sight.

My subconscious is still yearning for the docile tones of Jim Nantz as he describes the action at the Final Four before jetting off to Augusta, Georgia, to set the scene at The Masters. It feels like those events are still off in the not-so-distant future, but in fact, both should have wrapped up over a month ago.

Any sports on TV these days only add to the confusion. I can flip from the “Thrilla and Manila” to the 1988 Rose Bowl to the 2001 Players Championship, traveling through time and space at a breakneck pace.

As usual, the East Tennessee weather isn’t helping matters any. Last Monday felt like May, but the frosty start to this week left me scratching my head. Luckily Siri was there to tell me to bundle up.

When sports do resume, they’ll likely do so on an entirely different timetable than we’re used to. Baseball’s opening day may take place in early July. The NBA could wrap up its current season during the dog days of August only to turn around and start a new season in December. Football may very well end up being played in the spring.

If this happens, the stones that make up my personal “Sportshedge” will have to be dismantled and rebuilt in a different configuration, at least for a while.

While I yearn for that old familiar rhythm sports provided in my life, I’ll gladly settle for a new one. After nearly two months adrift at sea, the sight of stadium lights shimmering from a distant shore will be a welcomed one indeed.


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