Reading in the dark

Posted on March 30, 2008 by ELCA World Hunger

img_0391-722993If you’ve been following the media or my posts, you know that on Saturday several parts of the world engaged in Earth Hour. Both commercial buildings and private residences voluntarily turned off their lights for an hour to make a statement about energy consumption and our impact on the environment.

We participated in my house, and I spent my hour reading by candlelight. I have a few observations about the experience.

  1. I am completely, unconsciously hooked on electricity. When I enter a darkened room, I reflexively reach for the light switch. It’s hard to stop myself, even when I’m thinking about it. Change lasting more than an hour would clearly take real effort.
  2. Nearly all of my standard evening pastimes require energy. When I have free time, I like to read, cook, knit, watch TV, use the computer. Now, while reading and knitting don’t technically require electricity, they certainly are more difficult by candlelight. Which brings me to my next observation…
  3. It’s not as much fun to read by candlelight. I like electricity better. Posture is much more important when you have to keep your reading material near the candle, and after a while it’s uncomfortable. But to sit in my overstuffed chair with my legs flung over the arm as I often do, I’d have to put candles in my lap. Since I’m not keen on setting myself on fire, this obviously isn’t an option. So I’m back to improving my posture. I wouldn’t be reading as much at night if all I had were candles.
  4. Not having electricity is so rare in my life that it’s an event to be planned for. Unable to fathom the thought of sitting in the dark talking only to each other for an hour, my husband and I invited some people over for Earth Hour. We thought we’d sit around and talk to our friends. But as it turned out, my husband was sick so we had to cancel it. Still, it made me think of all the places in the world where the absence of electricity is common. What a very different life I lead from the one I would have without constant energy.
  5. If Americans didn’t have so much electricity, we might get enough sleep.

In the end, perhaps the best thing about Earth Hour isn’t the statement it made or the energy it saved, but rather the experience of really considering how thoroughly energy use is woven into our lives.

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