Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Night the Lights Went Out

 I often find myself reminiscing about the simpler life we baby boomers enjoyed in our youth. We did not have all the modern conveniences, yet our lives were less complicated. When we had free time, we were really free. Free to go outside and explore nature, find the neighborhood kids and play a game, or stay in on a rainy day and play cards or board games with siblings. Young people today, whether indoors or out in the world, have their heads down with eyes glued to their iPads and smart phones, ears plugged with their iPods, rarely interacting face-to-face with anyone. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to impart on my own family the importance of living in the real (unplugged) world.

Last September San Diego and surrounding areas suddenly lost power one afternoon and news reports predicted it could be a long blackout. Not knowing how long we would be without power, we scrambled to find stores open to get ice and essentials. The freeways and roads were grid locked due to the lack of traffic lights and everyone in Southern California leaving work at exactly the same time. My husband and I gathered flashlights and candles and planned sandwiches for dinner.

The next day, after the power had been restored, I met my 24 year-old son for lunch. I know that he spends a lot of time on his computer and other electronic devices, and I asked him what he did during the outage. His reply surprised and delighted me.

“You know Mom, it was really cool. Everyone came outside.” He said. “It reminded me of the stories you tell us of when you were a kid. I was at a friends, and we brought our guitars out on the porch and all the neighbors would stop and visit as they strolled around in the moonlight. Everyone had a friendly attitude and seemed happy to be outside.”

I listened to others making this same kind of comment in the days after the blackout. People realized, if only for one night, that there is much to be gained from turning off our electronic devices and acknowledging the people around us. At least a night without electronics gave my kids a better understanding of my less complicated youth.

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