Summer always gives me these grandiose ideas about what it would be like to live by the natural rhythms that the world provides. What would it look like for example to live without using electricity? It’s funny, I’ve been watching a lot of Downton Abbey this summer and in the first few episodes electricity is just beginning to make its way into the home. The general attitude about it seems to be somewhat flippant, “what do we need that for?” It’s funny, to see those scenes, to hear those comments about how electricity might be somehow dangerous or evil, but there’s a little part of me that thinks they might be a little bit right.
I think about how much of my time is consumed and dictated by electronic devices, how access to easy and bright lighting allows me to stay up as late as I want. It makes me think about how much of the rhythm of life can be easily disrupted by over-utilization of electricity. I suppose it’s that part of me that yearns for a seemingly simpler time, when families worked together for their sustenance, when they lived by the sun. I know it wasn’t actually that simple, that it was actually dangerous in many respects, but there is an appeal there too.
I’ve thought about trying it sometime- waking up with the sun, going to bed when it sets… or just lighting a candle to do some quiet reading by, but I always fail. The temptation of a brighter light by which to read, or an e-mail account to check is often just too strong and I don’t have any great philosophical reasons to persevere in my experiment. Still there remains a small part of me that thinks it’d be fun to experiment.