A week or so ago, the chicks and I were getting ready to have an early dinner when our electricity suddenly and unexpectedly turned off. After I assured myself that I did, in fact, pay the bill, I peeked out the window and saw that our neighbors' windows were all dark. It was about 4:45 and we were about fifteen minutes away from total darkness.
I grabbed the kitchen flashlight, and upon pressing the switch realized it needed new batteries. Or so I thought. I changed them, and it still didn't work. I found a tiny maglite on the shelf in the dining room. It didn't work. I changed the batteries. You guessed it. No luck. I tried one more flashlight and then started to feel like I was insane when, in fact, it also did not work.
What I find disturbing about this situation, aside from the fact that we somehow have three broken flashlights and none that actually function, is the fact that my first, second, and third instincts were to grab flashlights. Why not a candle? Aside from the fact that candles are significantly more useful for lighting the surrounding area than flashlights are, they provide much better ambiance. When the electricity went out, I frantically scrambled for more electrical devices.
Once I got us set up with candles--in this huge candle holder on the wall that we rarely use, on the table, on the kitchen counter--we had the most lovely time. It was so peaceful and, honestly, quieter. Between the atmosphere of the candlelight, the lack of stark, artificial light, and the respite from the hum of appliances, even the chicks couldn't help but be at peace.
And all of this reminded me of a group of people I read about not too long ago who are practicing a weekly technology-free night. The idea behind it is not a new one by any means; a work-free day at the end (or start) of the week is a part of many religious and cultural traditions. Most of us are so wrapped up in our daily use of technology, however, that it can be hard to envision life without it.
When I read about this, my first thought was "Great idea! It will probably be too hard with the chicks so young, but I'll try it when they're older." I got it all wrong, though.
Managing the electricity/technology-free night with the chicks was a breeze--much easier than it is when the lights are blazing and the the machines are whirring. The problem came when, at 6:45, the lights came back on.
I was knitting on the couch, and the chicks were playing on the floor oh-so-quietly. Suddenly, as quickly as they turned off, all of our devices turned back on. At first, Ninna asked if we could turn everything back off, and I happily obliged. But another 20 minutes of that scene was all she managed before temptation set in and she turned on the dining room lights. And I have to admit, knitting in the dark was getting a little old at that point, and I didn't ask her to turn them back off.
Now that I've experienced a forced technology and electricity-free evening with the chicks, I'm dying to add it to our weekly rhythm. The question is, can we do it? Could we really keep the lights off, and, more importantly, could I really keep the computer off after the chicks are asleep?
I'll let you know. We'll be trying it again next week.