Tomorrow, March 28th, at 8:30 pm local time, wherever we are, we are all supposed to turn out the lights for Earth Hour. An hour of darkness will save us all a lot of energy–and it might actually bring us closer together.
About two years ago I asked my family to kindly indulge me in a fantasy of mine. As a lover of historical fact and fiction (especially historical romances), I realized that much of how we view our world today is through the glare of artificial lighting. I wanted to get a feel for what it was like to live in a time when candlelight and sunlight were the only sources of illumination. So I requested a day without electric lighting—or electricity.
I picked a Sunday when nothing was going on. I did make exceptions for a few important appliances: the coffee maker, the refrigerator, the stove. The day was delightful. There was a sense of peacefulness and quiet; we couldn’t migrate to our screen lives, and if you wanted to read you had to congregate where the good light was. As darkness fell and the candles were lit, we swarmed like moths around the light. Dinner was both fun and beautiful, and like some sort of painting that was both modern and ancient. I realized why the rule “don’t reach across the table” was born—reaching across a candlelit table can result in sleeves afire. We played Scrabble, since it was too dark to read, but not too dark to see the large print on the tiles.
One of the biggest surprises was that as the candles were finally blown out and we went up to bed, we could SEE. Our eyes had adjusted to the darkness, so things that normally would seem pitch black suddenly had form and a special reality. It was a shocking and lovely insight.
Due to our busy schedules, we haven’t done it since then…but this Saturday, presuming I can remember, we are turning out the lights. I hope you do too.