A Loophole in Time

I discovered that with a little effort, I could shape time, in the same way that the wind shapes a sand dune

by Diane Ackerman
alarm clock image
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

There are many other ways to create loopholes in time—worship, meditation, wholehearted play—and a favorite of mine, being in nature. When I go out for a sensory walk, I leave all the mind theaters at home and pay deep attention to the clouds, the trees, the birds, the hieroglyphs of tar patches on the road, the feel of the planet pressing up underfoot, the sway of being a body in motion. I attend to those phenomena as if my life depended on it, which of course it does. Most evenings, I allow time for a late bubble bath, in which I read books I don’t need to, just for fun, before I go to sleep. But cozy time, slugabed time, is especially nourishing. It can knit a relationship closer, and it helps one start the day in a state of calm.

Nonetheless, I’m intrigued by the Tugasluga bed alarm clock, which was a novelty in 1910. Before climbing into bed, you wound its loop around your big toe, and in the morning an alarm gave you eight seconds to get up, after which it began yanking really hard. It exists now only in museums, but I’d try it if I could. Once I realized what was happening, if the toe tug didn’t wake me, my own laughter surely would.


DIANE ACKERMANis a poet, essayist and naturalist. Her most recent book,One Hundred Names for Love,is just out in paperback.

Photo courtesy of elena moiseeva/Shutterstock.com

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Originally published in the April 2012 issue

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