It all started when I left my watch on the bridge connecting Tromsø to Sommar, Norway. At first I thought it was strange to ask him to hang there on his bars, but then I remembered that I had already read something about this initiative.
Apparently, the 300 inhabitants of this island in Norway asked the national parliament to abolish the clocks of everyone who lived or visited those parades. It made sense: when a handful of kids could play football at two in the morning, in full sunlight, what good are hands?
This detail was in the article I had read, along with the information that, in summer, the station that gives the island its name, there are 69 days without a night. When the stars themselves challenge a human creation, the marking of time, what is the point of preserving it?
In my first steps in Sommar, I no longer thought about it. Enchanted by nature and the few simple houses in the landscape, I decided to relax and have a beer. It occurred to me briefly that it was not yet noon. But the instrument that could help me verify this was no longer in my fist.
The cell phone’s digital clock was also properly enabled by this time and I went ahead with my project. She wasn’t hungry yet, she would arrive when she had to. And I would certainly find somewhere open in Sommar to satiate my appetite.
I’m not sure how many days I spent there as it wasn’t counting time. But I can say that I slept like ten or twelve sleep intervals, I don’t know how many periods of 24 hours the outside world insisted on counting.
Or not. When I left Sommar, and purposely did not retrieve my watch on the bridge, I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at Tromsø airport and find that my ticket was suitable for any flight back to Oslo, with no set time to board, depending on when the plane arrived.
In the Norwegian capital, the same thing. I had a reservation for Paris and traveled whenever I wanted. Apparently Europe had also abolished the hours!
I arrived at the Charles de Gaulle in what people still called in the morning and, as soon as I left my bags in the Marais, I saw that in some cafes I could find croissants and, in others, bowls of calvados on the tables. With restaurants open whenever they liked, it was possible to have lunch all day. Or dinner.
If one museum was closed when daylight was gone, another would light up to receive visitors. And on the subways, the announcement of how long it would take until the next train was not even needed.
From there I went to Madrid and nothing looked very different. After all, the sight of mothers walking their babies at dawn along Gran Via was never new. But gazpacho at dawn? Churros with chocolate enjoyed in the dark? Jerez with the noon sun? “No pasa nada”, as the Spaniards say.
The next stop was Istanbul, where watches had also been retired. Fishermen on the Bosphorus at dawn, Gran Bazaar by lamplight, dervishes dancing in the first light of the sun. In a city that was already timeless, the absence of hours was not even felt.
The same feeling I had in Bali, my last stopover before returning home, where I concluded (early) that the trend was worldwide. Upon arriving in Ubud, the religious celebrations seemed endless. Satay skewers uninterruptedly perfumed the streets, just as gamelons sounded incessantly, under the sun or under the moon.
On the way to São Paulo, I took advantage of the 10-hour connection in London to check if Big Ben was “on” in this new world without time. Without a start, I found Banksy’s huge graffiti-replaced dials!
And so I arrived in my São Paulo, in my Brazil, where everything continued as before. Worse, it seemed frozen in another time, with people discussing anachronisms like the printed vote, hesitation with vaccines, billionaire electoral fund.
And I realized that here it is not enough to just abolish the clock. We have to learn to let go of the past.
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