Living Green (or not)

I’ve been remiss with my posting.

But I have an excuse, NO POWER!!  Thanks to the freak snow storm that hit us before Halloween.  Maybe not so weird at the North Pole, but for the Philadelphia area, yeah, it’s weird.  Normally, when our power goes out it pops back on in about 15 minutes or less.  This time it went out for pretty much the whole weekend.  I used the experience as a test…..I’ll explain why.

About a year ago I read a book by William Powers called “Twelve by Twelve.”  In it, the author describes his experience of living in a twelve-foot-by-twelve-foot cabin without running water or electricity in a rural area of North Carolina – as he describes it, “a one-room cabin off the grid and beyond the American Dream.”  After a decade of aid and conservation work in Africa and Latin America, Powers returned to his parents’ home in New York city and felt completely disillusioned by the changes he saw, so he shacked up in a friend’s cabin to discover how humanity could “transition to gentler, more responsible ways of living by replacing attachment to things with deeper relationships to people, nature, and self.”  Some people may fantasize about escaping it all with a trip to the Bahamas.  After reading this book, I fantasized, obsessed, about living this kind of lifestyle with my family.  First of all, I want to get rid of stuff.  Why do we accumulate so much stuff?  For one, I never seem to be able to turn down a hand-me-down, and we end up suctioning up everyone’s discards.  Then, when we want to get rid of our stuff, no one wants it.  I don’t blame them, our stuff is crap.  Second, I just want to simplify.  Our society is driven by comfort, on what’s going to make our lives easier.  Supposedly, technology, gadgets, public-owned utilities, online shopping, yeah, all that stuff makes our lives easier.  I think it makes more demands on us.  The more we have of these fabulous inventions, the more is expected of us i.e. “It’s okay if you’re stuck in a blizzard in Ackley, Wisconsin, I’ll just email your smartphone the 200 page document that needs to be whittled down to 3 pages by tonight.”  Ohhhhh, yeahhhh, sipping herbal tea in a hut in the middle of a wireless field sounded pretty freakin’ good.

Unfortunately, we completely failed the test of surviving without power for two days.  Couldn’t find the candles and when we did, discovered many of them were cracked or broken.  Couldn’t find a match…had to borrow some from the neighbors (the ones who had about 20 candles, 50 matchboxes, a dozen flashlights, a battery-operated radio, 3 cases of water and a generator, I might add).  Attempted to make pb&js for the kids, then after making a few sandwiches, realized the “peanut butter” I thought I put on the bread was actually mustard that came in a jar that looks exactly like “Skippy” in candlelight.  Got frustrated because I was in the middle of a document that was due the next day and couldn’t finish it.  Got frustrated because I’d already finished the book I was reading instead of working on the document.  Husband got frustrated because he had to suffer through a night without television.  Kids walked over to my brother’s house to play the Wii since they already got their power back after only a few hours.

Guess I should start dreaming about drinking pina coladas on that cruise to the Bahamas instead.

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