Drinking in the dark
Sept. 8, 2014
by Ivan Raconteur

Upon returning to the bachelor pad on the final evening of the recent Labor Day weekend, I mixed myself a refreshing libation and had just settled into the old recliner when I became cloaked in darkness.

The power went out and stayed out for four hours.

I understand a power outage is a serious matter for those with medical conditions requiring special equipment, people who keep livestock, businesses, and others.

I further understand the financial impact of prolonged power outages, if one has to discard the expensive contents of one’s icebox.

However, aside from those concerns, there are times when a power outage can be a good thing.

My Monday night adventure was one such occasion.

I had spent the afternoon engaged in a round of psychedelic mini golf with some friends, followed by a leisurely dinner accompanied by delicious adult beverages.

I was ready to relax a bit before jumping back into the rat race.

The timing of the power outage was, from my perspective, perfect, since I had just topped up a beaker of the elixir in a large insulated mug, so I had no need to open the icebox.

In the subdued glow of my battery-powered lantern, I passed a relaxing evening with a good book.

Judging from the photos and comments posted on social media later, a lot of other people did the same thing.

Some families played board games by candlelight; others played cards; and there were even reports of people actually talking to one another, rather than remaining isolated in their self-imposed electronic cocoons.

In my case, the power outage was a bit like camping without a tent.

The lack of electricity did nothing to hamper my entertainment, and there was something peaceful about it.

Other people, too, seemed to embrace the opportunity and make the best of the situation.

I understand some children complained that there is nothing to do without computers and the Internet, but that makes a power outage even more valuable as a teaching opportunity.

For those of us who lived for decades without computers or the Internet, it is a sobering thought that some young people are growing up not knowing how to entertain themselves without some sort of electronic crutch.

It is also sad that it takes a power outage for us to stop and enjoy the company of those who are closest to us.

Time passes so quickly, we should take advantage of every opportunity we have to spend time with people we care about. Those are the times that matter.

I doubt that most of us, when we look back over our lives, will wish we had spent more time playing idiotic games on electronic devices.

However, we might very well wish we had spent more time with our family and friends.

As I pause to think of years gone by, the things that stand out are the simple ones. A game of cribbage while drinking cocoa with my uncle after cross country skiing on a crisp winter day; a game of cards with friends; a quiet conversation over a glass of wine with someone special; the camaraderie of working on a project with others – these are the times I remember. These are the times we learn the most about the people around us, and maybe we learn a bit about ourselves, too.

We take for granted the fact that we can do so many things with just the flip of a switch these days.

We are constantly rushing to find ways to use technology to allow us to do things quicker and more efficiently so we have more time. But, what do we do with that time?

Maybe power outages provide a lesson.

Perhaps we should pull the plug once in awhile and spend some time getting reacquainted with the people we love.

Maybe we will gain more sitting around by candlelight and enjoying one another’s company than we ever would collecting the latest electronic gadgets.

By making the conscious decision to pull the plug now, we might just make some memories we can look back on to brighten some dark day in the future.

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