While we were well prepared for one day of no power, our power wasn't restored until Thursday night! We spent the week charging up our phones at work, and buying lots of bags of ice to keep the immediate necessities (read: wine) cool in the cooler. The saving grace was that we still had hot, running water, so we could still wash dishes and shower. Also, the storm blew in perfect weather so we were fine without air conditioning.
Here was the crazy thing, without all our time saving devices, I found myself with so much time. It felt great. For example, it usually seems that I never have enough time before I head to work, because I'm trying to do a gazillion things. Without my computer, I couldn't do any of those things and I had time to read while drinking my coffee before going to work. I went to work relaxed and ready to face the day, as opposed to feeling rushed.
It made me acutely aware of just how much longer everything takes me, when I'm surrounded by these constant distractions. I'd have this feeling of "missing something" but when I'd log into my email the next day at work, or check my Etsy shop, I hadn't missed anything. When I did start to feel like every email had to be answered immediately? When did I start looking to see if I have a new email at every commercial, or snack break?
I was reminded of that scene in Before Sunrise, when Ethan Hawke's character says, "You know what drives me crazy? It's all these people talking about how great technology is, and how it saves all this time. But, what good is saved time, if nobody uses it? If it just turns into more busy work. You never hear somebody say, 'With the time I've saved using my word processor, I'm gonna go to a Zen monastery and hang out'. I mean, you never hear that."
Now, I'm not saying I'm ready to ditch it all and move off the grid. (Although the thought did cross my mind a few days into it. If it could be in Hawaii, of course.) I love my Mac, and my iPod, and I love all that this technology has made it possible to do, and the people I've gotten to meet through it. Technology is invaluable as a tool and a resource, and I love it. But it did reinforce in me the need to unplug more often, not just when I'm on vacation. It reminded me how restorative the quiet can be, and how important it is not to be constantly stimulated from all these external sources. It reminded me that some of my best ideas and creative bursts are born out of being bored.
I guess with everything, it's about finding the balance. Using these tools for what they do best (for which my list is long), but stepping away when their job is done. Below is a photo out our front window of downtown Providence (fully powered!) and our street totally dark.