This is an exaggeration of the events from my morning. But barely exaggerated.
This morning the energy company had a planned power outage for my area. Knowing about it ahead of time, I had a few candles out for the morning to ensure no one fell down the stairs or had any other unnecessary accident. Other than the soft, flickering glow of candlelight my house descended into the darkness of unknowing.
Being the first awake I sat in the darkness and soaked it in. Without the clutter of technology life seemed much simpler alone in the dark. Unlike most people, I never got the feeling of smallness. The insignificant feeling people get when confronted by an act larger than themselves that alters daily routine. Life was interrupted by a mere thing like electricity. No Twitter or Facebook bringing a daily dose of drama into my life. No morning news anchors trying vying for my opinions to align with their own. No constant commercials bombarding me with useless products that apparently I cannot live without. Not even an overhead light, sucking my hard earned dollars just so I can feel safer. The light is safe. Nothing can hurt you in the light. The darkness is where fear and danger reigns supreme.
Yet, I felt none of that. Instead I felt empowered. I owned the darkness. The world made sense again. I was in control. Nothing battled me for my attention. Everything I wanted to focus on was silent before me. The world bared its soul to me and it was mine for the taking. In the candlelight I just looked around my living room. The flatscreen TV lies dead in the corner. No blinking lights from chargers or coffee makers. No clocks screaming every minute of time passing by me, wasted hurrying to the next meaningless appointment.
Time stands still in today’s world when there is no electricity. Life grinds to a screeching halt as most people are unsure of what to do next. I let the timelessness flow through me. In those moments I was in control of my own fate again. I was homo erectus huddled in a cave, the only light from natural fire giving birth to the world around me. Everything I could be was open for the taking. For fleeting moments I wanted to fashion a spear from the legs of the dining room table, tie a few kitchen knives to the end, and stalk my dark neighborhood for wild game to cook over an open fire.
The patter of soft footsteps on the stairs brought me back to the reality of today. A timid call of “Daddy?” wafted down the stairs, breaking the silence of the world. My youngest, my baby girl was awake. Even without clocks to inform me of time, it did not stop. Indeed, it carried on as normal, ticking away my life essence with its unstoppable progression. Just because I was comfortable in the timeless darkness, daily duties still beckoned for my attention. Instead of stalking the adjoining yards for a neighbor’s pet to impale and feed my brood, I had to make sure my daughter was ready for school. She was confused at the flickering candles. Her waking mind did not take comfort in the light switch on the wall not bending to her will and filling her bedroom with the safety of light. In her call, I heard her voice quake with uncertainty. Scared that she was alone in a dark world that didn’t make sense.
I called out to her to comfort her that I was here as I made my way towards her. With renewed courage she came downstairs and wrapped her arms around me. I enjoyed her hug, her need for my strength. My place was not hunting for food in a small rural township. It was here, providing my own light to fill the darkness around us.
I comforted her, explained why it was dark, then told her that time doesn’t stop because it is dark. She still had to get ready for school. A stream of inquiries only a child could dream of flew towards me. I answered each with patience and had her continue her morning routine with minimal light. Being the brave little girl my wife and I have raised she summoned her willpower, clutched a flashlight and set off to do what she needed to do. Eating overly-sugared cereal, brushing of teeth, changing for school. The actions she mindlessly did every morning were carefully conducted this dark morning. Each minor activity given calculated attention so everything could happen without accident. She moved slower, but trudged along steadily.
My son ambled his way downstairs. He was less than enthused about the lack of energy powering the things he relied on. He was irritated his radio was off, that he tripped over his own clutter strewn about the floor of his room, and that he felt he was now in a hurry because it was dark. Even though his internal clock had him awake within minutes of his normal waking time, he felt that time had sped up. Without being able to stare at the clock, as it ticked life away, he felt a loss of control. Panic seemed to guide his actions as he flew about the house. He frantically searched for shoes that were in the same place as they were every morning. He fumbled through his desk, frantically searching for his flashlight. Once found, my son would not abandon his flashlight. He clung to it like Linus and his safety blanket. I tried to explain to him the candles provided more than enough ambient light for him to conduct his morning rituals. He seemed less than optimistic about this proposition. Instead he continued about his morning routine with speeds to make Hermes envious. In his hurry, I noticed his actions were sloppy and rushed. No attention was given to the things he normally did. Toothpaste fell from the bristles of his brush, milk sloshed from his bowl onto the countertop.
Looking at the situation brought great humor to me. I enjoyed the loss of power and reveled in my newfound strength. My daughter was empowered by a parental presence and meticulously conducted her morning ritual. My son frantically flew about the house, sure that time was passing him by because he could not see its passage. My wife……..crap.
Her alarm isn’t blaring from the bedroom.