This past Saturday was Earth Hour. I had never heard of Earth Hour until that morning when I noticed some chatter about it on Twitter. Everywhere across the world people celebrated by turning off their lights at 8:30 pm local time. Here in Los Angeles, the lights went out at the Staples Center, the ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier, and the colorful pylons at LAX.
I celebrated at home. I’ve been wanting to work toward less electricity use in the evenings so it was a perfect experiment. I timed it so that I ate my dinner by candlelight.
My reaction to my dark hour was such a cliche, I can’t even. I CAN’T EVEN. I started out feeling totally unhinged. In addition to turning off the lights, I tried to unplug. No phone, no computer, no TV, no devices. I felt anxious. I’ve always considered myself an independent person. I like to be alone, I like to go to the movies and out to eat alone. I had spent all of Saturday on my own and was still alone when I sat down to dinner in the dark. It was just me with my thoughts and the knowledge of my own inevitable mortality. I couldn’t forget about my dumb humanness by checking Instagram or Facebook, and that made me feel suddenly quite lonely.
Earth Hour also made me tired. With all the electric lights off and just the flicker of candlelight, I realized how many extra elements I depend on at night to keep me alert far past my internal clock’s bedtime– the tungsten lights, the blue glow of screens, the excitement of one more episode of House of Cards, the pint of Cherry Garcia. I’m tired at 9pm but end up going to bed after midnight because of these distractions.
It’s obvious to me that an “Earth Hour” practice would be a beautiful addition to my evening. An hour before bed, just switching off the electric lights, and winding down without screens. I think it’ll help me sleep more and better, as well as helping me become more comfortable truly being alone with my thoughts. Not to mention the money it would save in power bills and the added environmental boost! Here’s to EARTH HOUR every night!