24 December 2009
Several times a year the power company turns
off electricity to our village to ‘carry out essential work on the system’.
It seems that they have to do more ‘essential work’ on our power supply than in other parts of Hong Kong. Oh well. It’s much better than when we first moved to the village ten years ago and the power supply failed about once a month! And anyway, it only takes a few hours – usually on a workday when we’re gone.
Sometime last spring, we got a notice telling us that the power would be turned off for a full day for maintenance. A full day without power! They chose a Sunday to do this. And since most people go out on Sundays for a day of fun and shopping with their friends and families, this was fine.
But my husband, Michael, and I are not ‘most people’. We usually try to stay home on Sundays to hide away from the throngs of shoppers and the dangers of once-a-week drivers.
What a dilemma! We would be home for an entire day without power even to cook a meal. But worse than that – far worse – we couldn’t use our computers or even watch TV. Oh no!! What could we do without power for a full day!?
I had heard that we should take a ‘tech break’ every so often to enhance creativity.
Of course I didn’t believe that this would work. No matter that until the 1980s, no one even had personal computers to ‘be creative’ with. No matter that without the use of computers artists have created and still create works that thrill and inspire us. No matter that great speakers of former days moved millions without the aid of PowerPoint.
Still I wailed, ‘How in the world can we do anything without our computers?’
But we had to – for a full day.
Several days before the ill-fated ‘no-power Sunday’, I jotted down some notes on what we might actually do. I even scheduled various things. Eat an early breakfast while we still had power. Prepare a thermos full of coffee. Talk about some future plans for various projects (work- and family-related). Then about mid-day, take the inevitable journey into town to have lunch among the millions. Lollygag at the mall for a while. Head back home. Have a nap. And late in the day, take a walk and hope that the power would be back on in time to have hot water for a shower afterwards.
That was the plan.
What an unexpected success this ‘powerless’ day was! During the morning hours, we came up with some AMAZING ideas just by sitting down on the sofa and chatting – some great work ideas and plans to implement them – some great family ideas – some great dreams and hopes – not to mention lots of laughs from memories of our years together.
And just when we were thinking about going out for lunch, the power company delighted us by finishing their work in only four hours instead of eight! So we didn’t have to buck the Sunday crowds and dangerous drivers after all.
Imagine our surprise. A lot of creativity that we could never have achieved with the ‘help’ of a computer. And the bonus of a power company that aims to please.
Why did it take a power outage to force us to get creative? Why don’t we go low-tech more often?
My ‘Gift’ to You
So my Christmas gift to you is this bit of advice. Take a tech-break every now and then.
Turn off your computer, set aside your mobile phone and pretend that the TV isn’t working. Take a walk and have a talk with someone close to you. You’ll be amazed at the powerfully creative ideas you’ll come up with. And you’ll be truly refreshed to begin working on them once the ‘power’ is back on.
I wish for you a wonderful holiday season – and a very prosperous and creative 2010!
P.S. – I’ll take a holiday break next week – so no blog post on New Year’s Eve (you’ll be too busy to read it anyway). See you again in January.