Thursday, 5 April 2007

Flipping the switch

My brother-in-law Mark emailed me from South Africa last week to tell me about an event to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday. The idea was that people around the world switch off their mains electricity between 7.30 and 8.30 local time. So at the appointed hour we flipped the switch and settled into a peaceful spell of pottering by twilight and candlelight, having baths and chatting.I suspect that a few people saving an hour of electricity didn’t even offset the massive surge caused by people watching the first Dr Who in the new series that hour (including us - I fudged - we put off our start by half an hour to accommodate that habit).

But what going off-grid, briefly, made me realise is that this is what I want, deep down. The feeling was what you get when you walk through an old wood, along the river at sunrise, make love particularly beautifully, happen to coincide with the dawn chorus or spend an hour over supper with your family just chatting. Times like that you feel, this is real; this is what I value.

And every step I take, away from dependence on electricity, cars, supermarkets and all the supposed luxuries of the modern world, feels sane and safe, a step in the right direction. Maybe there a better life just around the corner and it’s only when we do something random and un-habitual that we realise it in a gleeful peak moment. So I say bring it on, flip the switch!

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