Talking point: Will someone please turn out the light
I am sitting at my desk, in the dark, wearing a headtorch, typing this post with the lights out.
Why? Because the lightbulb in the office has blown.
It’s been three months now and I still haven’t got around to changing it.
Isn’t that a bit lazy?
Well… yes. But I like to call it energy saving. The truth is I’ve really just adapted to these new circumstances. It’s a bit like having jam on my bagel; I’ve formed a new habit and become accustomed to a darker version of reality.
Anyway, despite the gloom I have enough light from my headtorch and screen to make me feel like a 21st century Dickens. Or do I mean Scrooge?
Look you’re not churning out great literature..
No. Just this drivel; I don’t aim high. But darkness is a masterpiece in itself. Like the best literature it’s a transformative experience. It takes something familiar and gives it new texture, new meaning. It casts things in a new light; a dim but differently nuanced one. Darkness is an adventure we can all embrace; everyday, if we choose to. You don’t need to wait for your bulb to blow.
So writing in the dark is your idea of adventure?
Well, I’m getting into it now. At first it was an inconvenience but once the elastic of the headtorch squeezed my head I felt a twinge of explorer spirit and began to pay attention to the experience.
How often have you sat in the dark and really noticed what it’s like to be in darkness, even in familiar surroundings? Have you noticed what colour darkness is? What you can and can’t pick out in it? Have you noticed how your other senses are heightened when your eyes can’t do all the detective work. How you feel different in the dark?
Have you ever had a family evening at home, in the dark? We did it last year for Earth Hour and spent a happy evening playing games by candlelight in an atmospheric bonding experience that was educational and part of a wider pattern of collective action. If you want to join in, Earth Hour is this weekend, 23rd March at 8.30pm, although you don’t just have to do it for an hour.
But sitting inside in the dark is not a real adventure is it?
No, you’re right. Who wants to stay at home? So take it one step further and go outside. Write your diary at the bottom of the garden with the light out. Or go on a night hike. You don’t have to go far. We strapped on head torches for a mile or so night hike to our local Travel Lodge, just for the fun of it. How different the canal, footpaths and fields are at night, when swans become sea dragons, sheep eyes glow and hedgehogs crawl out to attack. Mind you that was child’s play compared to the time we took a canoe out on the River Wye after dusk.
Why would you do that?
That’s what my 73 year old mother asked as she waited all night in a dark lay-by to pick us up. It may be unconventional to paddle a river at night and you need to choose your water carefully but boy can it make a tame stretch of water feel deliciously daring. Normal wildlife chatter becomes the sound track of a horror film and it’s hard to navigate or know where you are when you can’t see landmarks. Riffles of water take on the significance of giant rapids in the silence; in fact you can easily scare the pants off yourself. Kirstie was convinced we were about to go over Niagara Falls at one point. All of which turns it into an adventure. An easy, cheap, very different kind of adventure. With bats. If you are lucky.
Bats are not lucky
No. And thankfully there are no bats in the office. Just me, my computer, a broken light bulb, a head torch. And a now…this talking point.
Have you ever had an adventure in the dark? Have you ever joined in Earth Hour? How was it for you?
Join the Conversation
Talking Point is our series of short Photo Friday posts. Each week we pick a photo and post a talking point and invite you to join the conversation. Do leave a comment with your thoughts.