About this time two Mondays ago my brightly lit world went dark.
Super Storm Sandy made her presence known and took away our lights, the Internet and the soft glow of our 42″ flat screen tv. Oh, and lest I forget the necessities: heat, access to money or gasoline and any semblance of fresh produce.
But we survived. We had water, a decent amount of non-perishable food items and candles. Make that oodles of candles (side note: one bag of 100 tea lights will last you 9 days without power and light up to 4 rooms/day. And you’ll still have some leftover to decorate the votive holders stashed around your house. You’re welcome).
To keep our spirits up, Marc and I joked about it being like living in pioneer times or more accurately, going on a glorified camping trip, one of the car camping persuasion. You’re semi-roughing it: donning the appropriate gear and subjecting yourself to the elements in small quantities, while retreating to relatively plush accommodations. Sure staying connected required a cigarette lighter charger to keep my iPhone working and even then I was effectively cut off. The first day or two I clung to my Pavlovian response of picking up my phone at hourly intervals, pushing the home button thinking I missed a Twitter update or text message, but AT&T’s stellar service quickly reminded me that was not the case.
A funny thing happened along the way: I forgot about what I was missing and focused on what I had. Connecting with loved ones and friends as we sifted through water-logged mementos and warped floor boards. My headlamp became my nighttime savior as I caught up on magazine reading and devoured a travel anthology. I wrote new blog posts and outlined new story ideas (with a pen and Moleskine).
I won’t lie, I did miss the modern conveniences of being able to command the light with the flick of a wrist, but I became aware of how much I miss by keeping my eyes squarely focused on a screen (be it tv, computer or phone). I vowed to maintain a bit of my disconnectedness when normalcy resumed, which it did on Thursday. Devices sprang to life and connectivity allowed us to glimpse what we had missed in the past 9 days.
No doubt it’s a common theme we all share as evidenced by the front page of the The New York Times Style section: “Hurricane Sandy Reveals of Life Unplugged“. In it, people share their tales of a tech-free life post-Sandy and the article does a great job at pointing to our over-indulgence on the gadgets that seemingly enhance our lives.
So I’m striking a balance between staying connected and living like Laura Ingalls Wilder. We’ll see if, once the memory of Sandy fades, I return to my old ways. I’m thinking I just may be onto something here…