My kids had a school homework assignment. It was worth four extra science points if their family participated. They were to cut out all the lights in the house from 8:30 to 9:30 Saturday evening as part of the 3rd annual Earth Hour. I thought–sure, we’ll do our part and participate, how hard could it be, it’s for a good cause both for our kids’ education and for the planet.
After 15 minutes of lights out I had already begun to get antsy in the absence of illumination. Then we had an early spring storm come through. Lightning strikes. Thunder booms. Wind gusts. I was sure we’d lose power for real, and not just the lights. I gathered candles and matches in preparation. I felt a little silly, playing at Earth savior, and selfish for getting pissed in advance for potentially being without my Internet and my microwave popcorn and my TV for a few hours.
The storm passed. We never lost power. I watched “Nim’s Island” with my kids. After, I put them to bed, turned off the lights in their room, double checked the night light in the hallway outside their bedroom door. Back downstairs I browsed the TV channels. Got through the 300’s–all the movie channels–before deciding that there wasn’t anything on I wanted to watch. I felt a little silly for calling what I was doing “surfing” when it was something so passive as pushing a “+” and “-” button on a remote, and selfish for getting pissed at the “lack of choices” found in over 400 channels.
I power up the Macbook, open my WordPress blog, choose an appropriate image from my “portfolio.” I decide that I much better like the idea of conservation and concern for the planet more than I like actually doing something. I decide I like the benefits of human industry, and for me the happy ending of the movie I watched with my kids–roughing it on a beautiful, remote island populated only by me and two others–would not be such a happy ending for me.
I decide I like my lights. On.
I find that I am not as concerned about my lack of concern as I should be. I console myself that at least I am being honest.
(While noting that this is another thing that I like the idea of more than any sort of execution.)