The Great Clock
In this world, in Alan Lightman's book Einstein's Dreams, people are aware that there is a great mechanical clock that controls all time, counts out seconds, minutes and hours. Once in their life, they must make a pilgrimage to visit this shrine, waiting in long lines for their chance to watch the "massive bronze pendulum" swing, "glint[ing] in the candlelight."
Long before this mechanical wizardry was built, "time was measured by changes in heavenly bodies: the slow sweep of stars across the night sky, the arc of the sun and variation in light. . . tides, seasons. Time was measured also by heartbeats, the rhythms of drowsiness and sleep, the recurrence of hunger. . . the duration of loneliness."
Since the holiday crush is now behind us, and I no longer have to pay homage to the clock with it's unvarying measures of time, I can wake when I'm ready, sleep when I want. The fudge disappears at irregular intervals alternating with good leftovers, sweet oranges from a friend's tree.
I awoke this morning later than usual, and worried, briefly, about being this far "off the clock." I should be up at 6:00 a.m., I thought, exercising, thinking, working, even writing. I could see the trees moving in great dark shadows beyond the drawn curtain, bobbing and weaving in the winds. I closed my eyes. It's a nice illusion to feel free of the "ratchets and gears" that measure out my life.