“Why are so many lights on?” Dan used to ask when we were new to each other’s living habits. “Because I can’t see a thing,” I would answer. My typical response to winter nights was to turn on every light that I could get my hands on . . . starting at 4pm. Even mounting electric bills couldn’t curb my craving for brightly lit rooms.
But then the unexpected happened: a hurricane-like storm with winds gusting to
70 mph left us without power. My response? I lit candles (a lot of candles, mind you). As we entered our third day without power, we fell backwards in time to a prairie-like feeling of simple living. Life unplugged — no TV; no internet; no movies — no nothing but candlelight and conversation.
Finally, on Sunday night, well into our 70th hour sans electricity, just as I was gathering the matches and candles for our new nightly ritual – the power came back on. You’d think I’d have been thrilled to be able to take a shower, check emails and flush the toilets (well, yes I was . . . duh). But the electric lights shocked me. They felt harsh, intrusive and even garish.
That night, even as we ran the dishwasher and welcomed hot water back into our midst, I (the flood-light hog with the motto ‘no light is too bright’) insisted that we turn off every electric light and spend the evening, again, in candlelight. Who knew I would experience such a profound peacefulness by settling into the darkness? So now, if you were to visit 11 Harvey Lane when dusk begins to fall, you’d see me calmly moving about the house, lighting my candles and whispering the word “unplugged.”
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