On Not Having Power

I am writing this from a warm office on the campus of Southern New Hampshire University. Just three miles away, my home has been without power for the last two days and is now down to around 52 degrees. Our regional power supplier informs us that it may take a week or so to restore power. Thankfully the next few days are supposed to be in the mid-50s.

Every year we lose power once or twice during storms, but the power has always been restored after about 24 hours. This time is different. We are now in the second day without power and I am beginning to get anxious. When one is without power one begins to notice all of the things that require electricity. For the most part, I have taken these things for granted and just assumed that electricity and power would always be there. Everything from cell phones and wi-fi, to hot water and heat are “off” in my house. I won’t even bring up the lack of television. However, after this most recent episode it has become clear to me that, at least in New Hampshire, power is not a right but a privilege.

When we lived in New York we never lost power, but New Hampshire seems to lose it every time a string wind blows. I never understood why this happened until my colleague and friend Megan reminded me of all the trees we have in New Hampshire. New Hampshire is around 70% undeveloped, which means that we still have lots of trees covering the state. The trees and the beauty they provide are one of the reasons we decided to move here. I guess you have to take the good with the bad in New Hampshire, and to be honest, I will take the frequent power outages every time.

Still, our dependence on energy is frightening. Now that the world’s population is up to 7 billion, we are more overcrowded and dependent than ever before. Perhaps we should have mandated national days without electricity (with the exception of hospitals and the like, of course). I am sure this idea would not make me popular in the political arena, but the fact is we are using too much energy.

Over the past two days my wife and I (much more my wife than me) have tried to make this “fun” for our children. In a way it has been fun, and we have huddled together for warmth at night the way families must have long before it became “unhealthy” for children to sleep in the bed of their parents.

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