The recent power failures showed me how dependent my family is on screen time. We were positively twitchy without our Netflix and e-readers to entertain us, our Internet news to inform us, and our Facebook and Instagram feeds to hashtag our experiences and share it with people far away.
The blackout made me contemplate how simply people must have lived when darkness came at four in the afternoon and could not be chased away with lamps. The blackout revealed to us again and again the kindness of our neighbours who checked in on us to make sure we were safe. The water running from our sinks was frigid, but it reminded me that at least our water is clean and potable, something that 780 million people around the world do without, according to data from the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Thanks to the blackout, I remembered how flattering candlelight is, how pleasant old paperback pages smell, and that keeping some processed food in the house is not a terrible idea when your stove and microwave don’t work. Hello, beautiful Oreos!
We told ourselves these things to foster an attitude of gratitude and to get us through a very boring, and shivery day. Events like these can have a humbling, medicinal effect on our busy, privileged, first-world lives. It forced us to just be with one another and to experience quiet, which we don’t always realize is in short supply these days.
Then the electricity returned and instantly our hiatus from the modern world was over. We ran as fast as we could to our I-Pads, cellphones and laptops. We luxuriated in hot showers, baked bubbly, fragrant meals, and slipped back into our comfortable bubble of safety and warmth. It’s easy to forget how quickly Mother Nature can pop that bubble should she feel like it. It’s easy to forget the struggles of the developing world when surrounded by the comforts of our own. It’s easy for us to forget to be quiet and still, until dramatic circumstances make us take the time to count our blessings and realize how very lucky we are.