Last week’s power outages in Telluride offered our family a new perspective, a perspective we couldn’t fully comprehend until we were staring it silently in the face. No radio. No television. No Internet. What’s a family to do without the deafening pulse of cyber-world thumping throughout every corner of our home?
Slow down, that’s what. Sever those wired connections to the world that keep our attention bound to things experienced remotely, and reconnect to the unwired currents of this very moment. Because in this very moment, our kids need our undivided attention.
Inevitably, problems arise with my plan, I understand. What about those people trying to run a business, make money, maintain the American status quo of forever striving for bigger, better, brighter things (which could not, of course, be attained while off-the-grid)? Craig and I, while living in France one winter, were continually frustrated by the French tradition of the entire business community shutting down for two whole hours every day for lunch. What do you mean I can’t buy light bulbs this very instant? You’ve got to be kidding me; I can’t recharge my cell phone minutes right now? No wonder socialized countries are shunned by the Right Wing! How can a country possibly keep its head above the murky waters of financial security if its countrymen aren’t working full eight-hour days?
Every time Craig and I were ensnared by this malevolent custom, we had no other choice but to succumb to its conditions… and sit down, a carafe of vin rouge between us, for a two-hour lunch break. I tell you what, we always purchased our light bulbs and recharged our phone plan minutes with a rosier gusto following those leisurely lunches.
One could argue that an inspired mother such as myself could recreate the power outage atmosphere simply by turning off all the electronics in the house for an hour or two each week. Yet I’ve tried this and, while it will suffice until my dreams of community-wide, weekly No Power Hour comes to fruition, it is only a stop gap measure. Because the little green light on the DVR still blinks, even when the television is turned off. The wireless router still hums, not quite inaudibly, whispering “Check your email, check your email…”
When the fine ladies and gents at San Miguel Power Association switch that giant switch to the OFF position, it will be like a community-wide “quiet Time.” Get your candles ready, put your books and board games where you can find them, and spend some real time with your loved ones. Time without the incessant chatter of technology dangling its goods in front of our faces, like an addictive drug.
In this reverie of mine, we’ll have to figure out some way to deal with the cell phone conundrum, since even with the power out we can still hook up with our addictions to technology via those pesky devices. Maybe our service providers can jump on the bandwagon too, and cut off service for No Power Hour…
During last week’s power outage, we had a campout in front of the fireplace. Elle didn’t really like No Power Hour at first: It frightened her. She has become accustomed to hearing, seeing, even feeling the buzz of our wired existence, and to her life without that mummifying drone is strange and unknown. It was strange and unknown to her, until she got wrapped in the warm blanket of her parents’ (undivided) attention.