By Joe Rector
The lightning streaked across the sky, thunder roared, and in an instant, the power went out. It flickered a couple of times in feeble attempts to come back on, but not until sometime later in the night was the power restored to our house and community. Good things happen when “the lights go out.”
One thing that is welcome is an early bedtime. Too often, we sit glued to the television to watch some program that adds nothing to our lives. When the power cuts into those shows, folks decide to take advantage of the extra rest. The next day, they rise better rested and ready to take on the tasks that await in a busy world filled with machines sucking electricity.
Lying in bed without a single light on or any noise from TV’s or radios is pleasant. Rain falling is hypnotic for some people. Out in the country, the frogs croak during the spring and summer; a dog carries on a discussion with another pooch in the community. Cars swooshing down the roads lull a weary soul to sleep.
If a storm knocks out the electricity during the day, the perfect activity to pass the time is reading. A covered porch with a rocking chair is an inviting setting. Before long, the back-and-forth movement of the rocker makes eyes heavy and the print in the book blurry. An afternoon nap takes precedent over all other activities.
I like the dark that comes with a power outage. When I was a boy, Ball Camp nights were black. It was difficult to see anything in front of my face, even my hand. These days, subdivisions have sprung up, and the hillsides and fields are now flooded with house lights, flood lights, and street lights. A return to dark is a welcome thing for us native Ball Camp residents.
I miss my children when the lights go out. They used to be scared, and it was one time when daddy could be a hero. I’d light candles and have them sit with me on the couch. Both of them would snuggle with me, and we’d wait for the storm to pass and the lights to come back on.
These days, people don’t enjoy time with no power. Technology brings no end to attention-grabbing devices. Yes, the lights might be out, but as soon as they go, people quick-draw their cell phones. Then they wait out the power outage by playing games, texting, or yakking with friends. Some people hop in their cars to find places that survived the storm with lights. It’s as if they are somehow afraid of being without electricity and the conveniences of life.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want the power to be out for extended periods of time. Still, it’s nice to escape all the trappings of this life that come with electricity. The following morning, I want my coffee; I have no desire to take a cold shower before heading to work. Neither do I want to risk driving through intersections where red lights don’t work.
I am as addicted to electricity and appliances and televisions as the next person. Still, an occasional outage is a welcome break in the routine. Those who know me will find it hard to believe, but at times when the lights are out, I enjoy sitting quietly and listening.
The next time a storm disrupts life, don’t fight it. Put away that cell phone or video game. Don’t hop in the car in search for a lighted place. Don’t fight the dark. Instead, sit back, accept the situation, and enjoy the peace and quiet. There’s not much of it left anymore.