Working with and without Power

Remember making a list of things to accomplish before going into the computer lab or internet café? You’d booked a computer for an hour, and you wanted to maximize that time. Now, with wifi 24/7, we can spend so much of our time online and not get anything done.

We can either incorporate periods of rest and productivity into our days and our week, or let life create them for us.

In the Pacific Northwest, the storms are upon us. Steady rain and wind are toppling trees already weakened by two summers of intense drought. The result? I, like thousands of others on the West Coast, spent a lot of the weekend without power.

Time without electricity is a steady-enough occurrence on these small islands between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. I have candles and flashlights, extra food and water. A few weeks ago, I bought a two-burner stove on sale so I can cook outside, and on Friday I made sure to carry in enough logs to see my woodstove through a weekend storm.

This form of preparation is essential here, where we experience the ready risk of wildfire, and the possibility of a magnitude 8.0+ earthquake. A weekend without power is novel for me in southern Canada, but it’s the norm in many parts of the world. Poorer countries, as well as those experiencing war, like Ukraine, or climate change–induced disasters, regularly experience outages and rolling blackouts.

I made a list of things to do once I had power (internet), and things I could do offline, then whittled my days down to the essentials. I caught up on chores I can do without electricity, like dusting and sweeping. I drafted this post by hand, moving around the house to follow the sun: writing under a skylight in the morning, and moving to a north-facing room in the evening to edit. And I filled my inspiration well: bundling up for a blustery walk, and reading a stack of library books. Once the power came back on, I attended to the necessary chores that will get me through another outage, possible in the next few days. Make extra food, grind coffee, fill water bottles, stock up the firewood…

It’s a system, like any other. It’s also a slower time of conscious consumption, a seasonal shift, and I’m all for it. I’m working with the day, rather than rushing against the clock or answering another email.

Many already work according to the days and the seasons: in this hemisphere, teachers work fall to spring, with summer off; and tree-planters do their planting in the summer, resting or doing other work in the off-season. Saving power and working in short bursts online is common to those who live aboard (full time on boats or houseboats) or off-grid, or who rely on solar power.

In embracing an abundance of less, I’m rewilding my life. In my next post, I’ll share more tips for rewilding your writing.

One response to “Working with and without Power”

  1. That was such a nice picture that you painted about writing longhand and chasing the sun. I believe that we require restrictions to grow. Just like you said, sometimes having unlimited supply of something (like the internet) doesn’t necessarily increase our output. Definitely continue on this topic of rewilding your writing! Sounds super interesting.

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