A couple of weeks ago, during a storm, our electricity went out for a few hours. While it was out I read for a while, and then Andrea and I played a board game. I remember, at the time, remarking that I really enjoy such electricity-free periods. Since then I have been thinking about why I enjoy these power outages so much.
The most obvious reason for enjoying electricity-free time is the peacefulness that comes with it. Andrea needs noise, either via the tv or radio, to help her relax. This means that there is almost, always, some sort of noise in the house if she is home. When the electricity is out, however, these noise sources are not available, unless we get out the hand-cranked radio, which we usually do not do for short outages.
When Andrea isn't home, however, I often work in silence and have not noticed the same good feelings as during electrical outages. It seems to me that if the lack of noise was the answer, I would experience the same moods when I'm home alone as when the electricity it out. This leads me to believe that there is more to the situation than simply a lack of noise.
The next most logical reason for my enjoyment of electrical outages is that not having electricity forces me to seek out more simple entertainment, such as reading, playing board games, or simply thinking. An evening spent in front of the television or computer becomes something entirely different when faced with a lack of electricity.
I think there is some merit to this idea, as I do thoroughly enjoy simpler, slower-paced, forms of entertainment. I do these things much less often than I'd like, partly due to the constant temptations from technology. It isn't that having electricity prevents me from doing things like reading, but in order to spend time with Andrea in the evenings I tend to do things I can do with the distraction of the tv in the background, since having that noise is important to her. I do tend to read more when she isn't here, but I still find that sometimes I give into the temptation of the computer or television, even though those are rarely as enjoyable as technology free entertainment.
I do enjoy the time that I spend alone, which I think is primarily because of the lack of television and often less use of the computer. This doesn't apply when I am working, however, since I sit at a computer eight to ten hours a day for my job. It is only during evenings and on weekends, and to a lesser extent during my lunch break, that I am able to enjoy some electricity-free time when she isn't around. I also find that time spent outside working, especially when doing a repetitive task that requires little thought, is often very enjoyable. I think I enjoy this type of work so much because it gives me time alone with my thoughts. This is likely one of the reasons I also enjoy camping and hiking alone. Still, though, spending time alone, either inside or outside, isn't as enjoyable as spending electricity-free time with Andrea. Yes, I like to having some time to myself, but I also enjoy spending time together, even if that mean just sitting across the room from one another reading.
Lastly, I am starting to wonder if maybe there is a physical reason that I am happier and seem to feel better during power outages. I have been vaguely aware that some people believe wireless signals and electrical lines are harmful. I've never been one to put much stock into those ideas, although have also never really done research on the topics. As I become more aware of the way I feel during power outages, however, I am starting to wonder if maybe there is something to it. Maybe I am sensitive to electromagnetic fields or radio waves, but have become so accustom to them that I don't directly notice their impacts.
I would like to do some experimenting to see if notice any difference in how I feel when performing the same tasks with and without electricity. I'm not going to force Andrea to go along with my experiments, though, so will need to limit them to times when she isn't home, and when I'm not on the clock for work.
I suppose I should also acknowledge the possibility that my improved mood during electrical outages is all in my head. Could it be that my romanticizing of a simpler lifestyle has resulted in me feeling better in those situations just because I think I should? I think this is certainly a possibility, and unfortunately is one that is not easy to test for. If feeling better, in a certain situation, though, is all in my head, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Maybe I can just learn to feel better more often.