Forced Unplugging: What Happened When the Lights Went Out

This post is not what I originally intended to write. Yesterday, as I sat at my computer composing my next article, the words flowed from my fingers as if the writing angels were whispering in my ear.

Then the power went out.

There was no warning flicker, no dimming of the lights. The electricity snapped off as if someone had flipped a switch. In a fraction of a second, our house was dead.

And silent. Too silent.

At first, since I obviously wouldn’t be able to continue writing, I looked on the outage as an opportunity to catch up on my reading. Curling into my favorite chair, I opened a book I’d been wanting to review.

My mind kept wandering. Not even two pages in and I couldn’t focus on the words.

First, I wondered how long the electricity would be out. Then I wondered if I’d be able to connect with the internet before bed. My fingers drummed on the arm of the chair. I was antsy. Why was it so dang quiet?

Five hours and dinner at a restaurant outside of the dead zone later, the ceiling fans started spinning and the refrigerator hummed to life. I heaved a sigh of relief and that antsy feeling disappeared. All was right with the world once more. My electronic toys were back.

Until then, I never considered that I might be addicted to technology. I’m not going through life looking down at my phone instead of up at the world. Wait, maybe I do. Okay, maybe I do spend too much time in the evening in front of the television playing mindless games on my tablet, but, hey, I’m just relaxing, right? I’m a good multitasker. And isn’t it great how if I have a question – any trivial question – I can find the answer on my phone in seconds? Who cares if I’m having dinner with my family? I need that answer now.

Then I saw this video that puts it all in perspective.

The forced unplugging is causing me to reconsider the role electronics play in my life. I wrote this post with the help of my laptop and, once I click on the “Publish” button, it wings its way to my blog through the wonders of WordPress. But can I make it through my after-work hours without tuning in to social media or television? Does my e-reader count? I’d hate to totally unplug from that; I read honest-to-goodness books with it, after all.

There are many articles out there touting the benefits of unplugging. Joshua Becker’s minimalist post struck a chord with me and, while I’m not sure I could unplug for 40 days, I will try shorter periods. My writing can go old school with a pen and notebook for a weekend and I will gladly set my phone to only work with calls and texts. It’s a start, anyway.

As a wise friend once told me, “Shoot for progess, not perfection.” If making it through a calm and focused weekend is progress, I’ll take it.

For now, though, I need to read my emails and Philadelphia Story is on Turner Classic Movies tonight.

Progress, indeed.

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