It was a Dark and Stormy Night…

And after a day of fun snowflakes the ice took over, and the power line snapped in my neighborhood. From 4:30pm until 2am my family was thrust into the camping life (let’s be honest, it was really more like “glamping”.) We made fresh pasta by candlelight, we played “treasure hunters” with our headlamps, but underneath the surface was a tension at the radical shift in our lifestyle. Its very uncomfortable to change habits, isn’t it? We had all of our needs met, but the routine that we had all become accustomed to was out the window. How to get the baby to sleep in his cold, dark crib without a white noise machine? How to get the 3-year-old to sleep in the downstairs room, which was a bit warmer than his normal bedroom? There was no Netflix to tempt me into staying up too late, so suddenly my goal of going to bed earlier became just the most reasonable next step.

Then, the most surreal thing happened: The power came back on: the merry christmas lights returned, the classical station boomed through the radio, the washing machine began to churn, the baby monitors began to beep,and I was shocked at how much power we had been using when we lost it. My husband had a look of incredible relief on his face. We plugged in our phones and cranked up the furnace. One minute later, the power went out again, and stayed out for the rest of the evening. In this moment, I felt the huge distance between these worlds: The world of technology, electricity and convenience that we take for granted, and the more organic, animalistic life that was all about survival, staying warm and waiting for the sun to rise.

I felt how different things would be in my body and my brain if I didn’t have the hum of modern life to gloss over the wildly fast pace and over-stimulation of day to day living. When I was younger I used to romanticize a more primitive lifestyle, but now that I have two little children I see how vulnerable it is, and I am thankful for the comforts that humans have built over the years.

However, it is important to remember that these comforts have side effects.  For me, the side effects include: eating more than I need to just because I can, spending more time than I should browsing the internet or checking in with social media, staying up too late and staring at screens or bright lights until right before I try to sleep, which results in a longer transition to deep sleep and less reliable sleep and dream cycles. I can only imagine how the intensity of our modern lifestyle impacts the sleep cycles of my 6-month-old baby, who suddenly seemed ready for bed the very moment we lost power.

I am really curious about the resistance that I have noticed to the traditional New Year’s Resolutions. I get that people are tired of letting themselves down, but I also think it is so important to take every opportunity to examine our habits and conditioning, and ask “Is this really what I want? Is this really what is helping me to thrive?” I am thankful for those hours of lost power, because it forced me to look at our habits more closely. I suggest using the transition into the New Year as a moment of possibility. If the power line did not force a pause in your life, you may just have to create one. Turn down the noise and tune in to your inner life for a moment. Change something, anything, just to see what happens. Sit with your discomfort for a bit longer than you normally would. If you want more info on self-examination and habit change, pop in for one of our many exciting workshops and series this month.

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