Right now I’m reading J. Maarten Troost’s book The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific. It’s a travelogue about he and his girlfriend jetting off to the teeny tiny island nation of Kiribati for 2 years. They stayed on the teenier tinier island of Tarawa, and he writes about all the weird and wonderful things that he encounters there. Things like unrelenting heat, drought, unfathomable cultural differences, dirty diapers littering a once-pristine coral reef, sharks, attack ants, and a severe lack of water and (tragically) beer.

I’m currently reading a part in the book where he is talking about the rolling blackouts that the island frequently endures. I thought to myself, ‘so what? Ooooh, you’re without electricity for a day, what’s the big deal?’ Electricity is pretty much a religion in the Western World, given our incredibly sad dependence on it, but islands like Tarawa have functioned quite well without it for about a gazbillion* years. Maybe the author shouldn’t be bitching about losing power when he’s living in the paradise of the South Pacific.

I was sitting mighty tall on my holier-than-thou throne until this morning when I lost my electricity for about 6 hours.

This morning I woke up to my bedroom fan switching off. I like white noise, so to not have a gentle hum in the background, jarred me awake quite rudely. I decided to get up and make myself some coffee, but was soon to find that the coffee machine didn’t have the power it needed to give me the power I needed. I thought that tea was the healthier choice anyway, so set about filling the kettle, only to find that our electric stove had given up the ghost. So, I slumped my way through my caffeineless morning dog walk, sniping bitterly about my misfortune.

I am a person that must eat breakfast each day, so when I could not make toast, eggs, or even oatmeal, I was almost beside myself. The Cheerleader I Live With and I don’t eat cereal (because I’m an addict and don’t know when to stop eating cereal), so I was getting a little snaky as my body twitched with hunger. I lamely cut up an apple and grabbed a scoop of peanut butter, and hoped that would suffice. I decided to blog about my worries, so that you could all feel very sorry for me, and give me lots of pity.

Alas, obviously, blogging was not meant to be, given that I had no internet connection. A shower, then… except the hot water tank is electric too, and so any hot water was short-lived. There was only one thing left to do: I brushed my teeth in the dark bathroom, then left the house to find a cafe. Once I was mochafied I felt much better, and since every cafe in the world is essentially an office away from the office, I was finally able to set about blogging… because I could steal someone else’s internet connection. Progress!

It amazes me how completely useless I have become without access to electricity. Hell, even my toothbrush is electric! God… so are the books I read. What am I doing? Is all that wattage really necessary? Can I make some changes and adapt to a less electric life? God forbid the power goes out for an entire day – I’d starve, smell bad, and be even bitchier than I normally am without access to caffeine.

I need to think about this. Maybe I need to take a closer look at my consumption of what I take for granted, and not just electricity. Water, food, clothing, relationships – everything. I tend to brag that I live a simple life, but it’s times like these when I realize how complicated my simplicity is. That seems a little backwards, don’t you think?

Hmmm… perhaps it’s time to challenge myself in a new way – embrace the simplicity that I pretend to dwell in.  That should be easy, right? Right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to go live in a cave or anything. I just want to have a look at what I’m consuming and why. Not in a hippie commune type of way, though. That’s too much like camping.

Happy Wednesday!


*Gazbillion may or may not be a real number