Every third day, our block of apartments go dark. It is one more of the conservation efforts that were put into place to teach us to learn to live more thoughtfully, preparing us for our next home. The first night we went dark was the hardest. No one had gone without the light, computers, or some form of entertainment for less than a few hours before the arks. When the Senate announced that there would be regular blackouts, we were outraged. The Red source was supposed to provide endless amounts of energy yet here we were needing to have blackouts. It just did not seem fair that we should suffer. However as the discussions were held and the information made public, we realized that no one knew how long we would be floating looking for our new home. When the thought of endlessly floating in the void entered our minds, we realized that one night every week was something we could learn to live with.
We had spent so many years attached to our technology. While it helped us advance science and medicine, we found out that first night without power that we had lost some of our basic communication skills. We sat in silence that first night. No one really talked too much and many went to sleep, hoping it would help make everything go by more quickly, sparing them the inconvenience of no entertainment. It was amazing to see how many of us did not know what to do with ourselves.
It was on the third week that finally one of the elders spoke up. They reminded us that we weren’t always plugged in. We didn’t always have the constant stream of communication downloaded to an ear piece, uploaded to a monitor in our pocket, streamed in the bathroom. We used to play instruments, we used to read, we used to see live theater. We had instruments and we had books. It was time to rediscover them.
The first month, we organized a play. We pulled out Shakespeare since everyone had heard of at least one of his plays. A small group of us got together and presented the block with a poorly acted version of Twelfth Night. It was amazing. People didn’t quite get all of the jokes but they did enjoy it. We talked about it after too, to make sure everyone understood what the story was about because the language was so old and used words that people hadn’t heard in centuries.
We did Ibsen, Miller, Williams, Simon, and Checkov. It was amazing to see how every other month, the whole block would be excited for the latest production. Even the auditions had gained reputation throughout the ark. People in other blocks would come down to audition and see the plays. It was an amazing feeling to know that we could find such wonderful entertainment in these old stories.
Soon, people were attempting to write their own plays. The imaginations were coming back to life. It was amazing to see because for so long we relied on other people to make our entertainment and with the arks, all of that changed. Yes there was still programming that was pumped throughout the ship, but it wasn’t like there were video games released every month or musicians on tour. People had forgotten how much enjoyment came from it.
Sitting around a room with a guitar and a room full of voices was something that not only entertained but made people feel connected. One of the girls who lived four apartments down had found a book in the library that had the songs of America and inside it were songs that were perfect for these Blackout sing-a-longs. The songs were about trials, about struggles, but they were really about hope. Singing them together made us feel hope.
We found, over time, that we were using the electronic less and seeking out people to talk to. Books to read. Music to play. Poetry to write. The arks made us find our voices and find our talents. We had all just been so numb to these kinds of things but people were doing so much more together and not walking around like zombies plugged in.
This post was written as part of January 2013 NaBloPoMo. The theme this month is energy. Today’s prompt was “What is your favourite thing to do when you lose energy in your home and can’t use electronics?” Keeping with my posts from earlier this week, we’re back on the ark, learning more about what to do during the energy conservation efforts. Please feel free to go back and read the start of this little mini-story. It’s a little different than what I normally post but I’ve been having a lot of fun doing it.