The power of no power

We were brainstorming marketing ideas for a big energy company at work when a fellow coworker, Jacque, shared a story.

She was born in Ethiopia, but her parents moved to America when she was three.

However, she has returned since to visit her birthplace and we’ve often chatted about the differences between America and Ethiopia.

(Which even inspired a past blog post on the juxtaposing cultures regarding the postpartum period.)

In the context of this discussion, we were talking about the power of electricity — what it does for us, how it fuels us, and how it literally “powers” every aspect of our lives. From Christmas lights on the tree to video games for the kids to family movie night, energy enables us to live better.

Well, most of the time.

In the middle of this brainstorm, Jacque spoke up. She mentioned how, in her village in Ethiopia, the energy was rationed. Therefore, they could only use it every other day. The other days — they were in the dark.

And then came her prose:

We would eat dinner by candlelight — and watch rainstorms instead of TV. We would leave our windows open for a breeze and breathe in the outdoor air. We had to talk to each other, to look at each other, to be present with each other — because we didn’t have the luxuries of electricity to distract us. I am grateful for electricity, but I am also grateful for being able to live life without it. I want my children to know what that’s like. 

And so, she’s instituted one day a weekend that her family relies on each other — rather than on the electronic devices around them. A day that is perhaps much needed to unplug in our glowing, buzzing world.

Because as Jacque reminded us: It often takes sitting still in the shadows to see the light.


One Comment

  1. Irene Mitchell


    This is a beautiful story. I am your father-in-law’s first cousin. He and I spent a good deal of time together growing up. It’s good to see that he raised his children to have empathy and the ability to see it in others and choose them as mates! I continue to read your blog. Thanks for writing it and sharing your expreience, strength and hope!


    Irene Mitchell

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