Recently we’ve been treated to several instances, some rather long and inconveniently timed, without electric power. No light. No heat. No water. Living in New Hampshire we’re not at all surprised by this — it’s December in New England after all; bad weather and power outages are our earthquakes and wildfires. We survived the ice storm of 2008, the Halloween storm of 2011 and other unnamed ‘weather events’ with the help of a gas-powered generator — so we’re luckier than many.
When I was a kid (blizzard of 78) we loved it when the power went out. It was a sort of challenge (thought I’m sure my parents might say otherwise) to manage everyday tasks. We bundled up and went on. Sadly my own children share none of this feeling. They view a power outage as a few steps down from nuclear devastation. They sit, lost and forlorn, often opting to go to bed early since there’s “nothing to do”.
Read a book? Play a game? Sit and talk? Not on your life.
After I finish criticizing the parenting lack that (must have) made them this way, I think how fortunate their generation has been to have abundant resources, to have the power always on. To have heat in the winter, light when they need it, entertainment to spare them the horrors of boredom. Imagine how they’d manage under rolling blackouts or rationed use of power! It would not be pretty.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for progress. I’m 150% for invention — in fact, I’m hoping there’s some kid in his basement (bored or not) as I type this who is discovering a new source of power. That first incandescent light was a marvelous innovation that changed everyday life for the better. I can’t help but wonder what Thomas Edison would say if he could see his lightbulb now. Did he have any idea how insanely important this one invention would become to the world.
Did he realize at the time how far his light would take us from the cave… how it might someday make it impossible to go back.