Earth Hour has come and gone on the East Coast of the USA. I believe this is my sixth year participating. I remember the first year my husband (then fiance) and I took part. We turned all the lights off and went for a lovely evening stroll. This year, although things are warming up, it’s a bit nippy out at night. We turned everything off, including our phones, and enjoyed some time together. We only lit enough candles to safely move around the first floor: one in the living room, one in the kitchen, and one in the bathroom. We then lit one on the altar and did a devotional. It just feels right for us to use this time to honor the Earth Mother and Nature Spirits in ritual. We did a short meditation and spent a few moments enjoying the stillness. Well, the stillness available to us with a very active baby!
A few people I know commented that they don’t understand Earth Hour. They feel it is irrelevant, silly, or some such. And that’s fine. Not everyone will find it meaningful. But my husband and I do. I still believe that it’s an important way to make a stand, albeit merely a symbolic one. Does it accomplish much in terms of actually saving energy? In the grand scheme, no. We still drove our gas-powered car to get groceries today, turned our computers back on after, etc. But putting that hour aside each year is symbolic. It is my way of saying that I still believe in the message. It is my way of saying that I’m willing to make little sacrifices. Every year, we make another change, take another baby step*. Earth Hour is a good time to stop and contemplate that.
My husband and I also find a lot of value in setting aside that time to get away from our technology. It’s when we can turn off, tune out, and reflect. When I was working through Ian Corrigan’s Nine Moons studies, I set aside a day each week as a retreat from social networking and watching shows. It was wonderful but didn’t last that long. Sometimes it does feel like we’re all addicted to this technology. Even when we aren’t on the computer, it might be on in another room. The cellphone is on and people can reach you any time. There’s a pressure to get back to people right away! There’s an inkling to look, just to see, and make sure nobody said anything to you, to see what others are doing, to check the weather, to check the news, to check this and that… And when you’re unable to do it at home, most of us are online at our jobs, using the internet to manage, plan, translate, collaborate, synthesize, publish, etc… When we leave our homes to socialize with family and friends, so many find it acceptable to somehow simultaneously use their smartphones to “multitask”**.
Earth Hour gives you an excuse to be in the moment. Sure, we can do that at any time, but sometimes we really need an excuse for ourselves. When we aren’t doing those things we feel we should, we can get antsy, even guilty. It feels good to turn everything off and sit in the dark. I should make a point to do it more often!
After our ritual, we played hangman by candlelight at the kitchen table. We giggled and had a genuinely wonderful time. When the hour was up and we turned the living room light back on, I thought about how lucky we are to even have that ability…
For more on why Earth Hour is still relevant, see this great post.
*This year, it’s all about reusable diapers and, for the last few months, reusable wipes!
** I’m so glad we went back to “dumbphones.” I feel like I live more in the moment when we are out. And really, it’s so very annoying to hang out with people and have them whip out their phones to play games or whatever. Did I do that? Gosh… I was so rude!