What I learned from the power outage | Opinion

Note: A power outage is not “magical” for many people. Not being able to stay warm or cook food – especially for seniors – is a scary situation. I am deeply thankful for the linemen at Orcas Power and Light Cooperative for their long hours in freezing weather and dedication to getting the power back on for island residents.

When the power went out last week, I had just settled onto the couch and was five minutes into a movie I’d been attempting to watch for days.

I cursed a little but out came the candles and my book, and so began the long wait of when power would flicker back to life.

But in the meantime, something profound occurred. I didn’t touch my cell phone for hours.

Prior to this, if you had asked me if I was one of those “out of touch with real life, iPhone-addicted people,” I would have said a definite no. But it wasn’t until I didn’t have the ability to text my friends, answer e-mails or go on Facebook that I realized in horror: I was a tech zombie.

When had this happened? I think it crept up on me. And then it became a habit.

So what did I do for those amazing, precious hours of disconnection from my device? I had long conversations with loved ones by candlelight. I made tea on our propane stove. I went to bed early and read my book. I woke up refreshed. It was pretty magical.

This all sounds great, but how can we realistically change our modern lives back to the days of oil lamps and eating a hearty breakfast at 5 a.m. before the harvest? Life used to be much more simple, and if my brief foray into that time was any indication, very rewarding.

Yes, we live in communities that value family time, local gatherings and a relationship with the outside world, but society is changing, and it seeps into our lives, bit by bit.

So I’ve decided to make minor changes. I won’t be looking at my work e-mail right before I fall asleep and first thing when I wake up. Whatever messages are in there can wait. I am going to talk more with those I love. My family would rather hear my voice than receive a text message from me. I am shoving my phone out of sight when I can. I don’t need it next to my hand all the time.

And I am going to light more candles. Everything seems more peaceful when there are amber flames dancing against the walls.

Maybe, over time, it won’t take a major power outage for me to see things clearly.

– Coileen Smith Armstrong, editor and publisher