Observations from a Blackout

Last night our street experienced an unexpected power cut. Well, when I say unexpected, I mean unexpected to me. I would have been a little less clueless about the 6pm-11pm “electricity maintenance” had I actually read the letter posted weeks ago!

But after digging out the letter, and accepting my evening of darkness, I decided to make the most of it and ran myself a candlelit bubble bath. As I lay back, with a glass of spiced rum, a slice of Frangipane (well…I wasn’t cooking dinner anytime soon) and listened to the Velvet Underground, I started to reflect on things taken for granted.

At first, I thought of the huge reliance we have on electricity; to power our lights, cool our fridges, cook our meals and (often) heat our homes. I thought about all the devices and luxury items I couldn’t use without power, and the things I couldn’t do without light. I realised this was the first time in a very long time I had spent an evening without internet or my phone (whose battery had already died).

I thought about the people in the world who could not afford to use electricity as much as me, or who not have access to it at all. And sheepishly realised how I took the access to these resources for granted on a daily basis. My thoughts also went to the lonely and vulnerable, who might be sitting alone and scared without any light and heating; of which there are likely thousands across the world right now.

I then began to imagine a world without power; in which there was no longer means to feed our TVs, phones, cookers and lighting. A world where candle light and an early night was common practice. I wondered if I would see that day in my lifetime; where the worlds resources are exhausted, or we’re found unprepared when a natural disaster strikes.

Finally, as my rum started to fuzzy my head and I snapped myself out of my sombre day dream, I realised one other thing I had taken for granted. Myself. It had been so long since I’d switched off from the outside world, stepped away from my devices, and simply pondered.  So long since I had imagined a world outside of my immediate awareness, and drawn my thoughts outward toward an alternative life.

And as the lights came back on, and normality returned, I vowed to myself to do that more often. To turn off the lights, and the computer, and the phone; either to relax in a bath, or simply to remind myself to be grateful for the life I have.

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6 thoughts on “Observations from a Blackout”

  1. I too rely on electricity far too much – I can remember a time not so long ago when I didn’t have a pc/laptop, phone or tv. The children and I played lots of games, read and drew. I think that I will follow your lead and turn off the electric and just enjoy each others company with no interuptions.

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  2. Yep, totally with you. We took part in earth hour a few years ago and loved it. I vowed then to have an ‘Earth Hour’ at least once a week, but of course we never did. We’re trying to gradually move off grid and for the first time this week the lights faded in the kitchen because the solar power went down. When you can just switch lights on, backed up by the grid, you don’t really value them. But when you put one light on and it makes another one go dim because it’s on the end of the solar line, you become so much more aware of the valuable resource you’re using. So in a way, that’s my little daily reminder throughout the darker months to be more mindful of what I’m doing…

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    1. Oh yes, Rae; I really want to get involved in Earth Hour. I’m fascinated with the solar idea and hope to one day own my home so I can “green it up” and have these choices. It’s such a shame these kind of investments are made to rental properties.

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  3. I actually really enjoy blackouts. They were a big part of my childhood -I’m not ancient but well into the 80s grid systems weren’t as efficient as they are now! – so they partly remind me of childhood. Also, they are a great way of disengaging. Plus, they kill my neighbours sound system for a few hours 😉

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  4. I had been doing a digital detox once a week (no laptop/email/social media) and have fallen out of practice. I’ll have to resume it. I had been enjoying unplugging once a week but it’s so easy to fall off the wagon! Thank you for the reminder 🙂

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