9 PM. Lights out.
I’m not good about going to bed on time. I’m not good about saving the environment. I’m not good about following through on prayers that I promise. I’m not even good about marking “attending” on facebook—despite my frustration at other people not rsvp-ing to my events.
But last night something trumped that.
I got a hokey facebook event invitation to turn the lights off in honor of the West Virginia coal miners who lost their lives last week. It said:
In order to demonstrate support for the families of the miners lost in the tragedy at the Upper Big Branch South Mine in Montcoal, WV on Monday, April 5, 2010, and for those families who still wait for word about their missing loved ones, I encourage each of you to turn off the lights in your home or office for 30 minutes. These brave men spend the majority of their time working underground in the dark so that we have the luxury of turning on our light switch and being able to see in the darkness. It is my humble opinion that turning ON our lights is an unsettling tribute to these brave souls and is, in fact, wasting the electricity that these brave men lost their lives to produce. Please join me in honoring these men and their families by turning off your lights for a small amount of time.
And for some reason I clicked “yes.”
“This event has 5,456 confirmed guests,” I read. Nearly that many were “not attending,” which is honestly what I would have clicked if Glee! had been on.
So at 9 o’clock, I turned my apartment lights out, powered down the computer, and turned off the power cord. My phone beeped because the battery was dying, but I refused to plug it in.
I couldn’t read, so I went to the kitchen to pour a glass of milk. That how refrigerator light is BRIGHT, and that fridge is COLD!
I went back to the bedroom & felt around for pajamas but gave up when I remembered that my bed was covered in binders and books and papers… no way was I crawling into bed until I got the lights back on.
My roommate came home and turned on the tv. I didn’t say anything—how can I ask someone else to sit in the dark when even I don’t even know what I’m doing?
I brushed my teeth in the darkness, illuminated by the light of the television down the hall.
I returned to my room and sat next to the window—where the apartment’s exterior lights are always on—and thought about how even in the middle of the night I wake up to a gentle glow of street lights. The night-light bothered me when I first moved to the city, but now I’m used to never seeing the stars. How did that happen? The ministry of mindfulness is not one that I’m good at.
And then I prayed.