Today I turned off the lights for Earth Hour. Earth Hour is a global movement started by the WWF in Sydney in 2007, and encourages people to turn off their lights for an hour on a day at the end of March as a way to engage with climate change.
Earth Hour this year was from 8.30pm – 9.30pm, so at 8.25pm I made sure I didn’t need to open the fridge, closed the microwave, lit some candles, made a nest, hunkered down, and turned off the lights. Then got back up again as I’d forgotten my drink. Now, having been a stage manager I’m used to wandering around in the semi-dark, except unlike my home, my backstages rarely had misplaced items of footwear just waiting to act as trip hazards. Holding my Princess Leia candle aloft I narrowly avoided a stray boot on my way back from the kitchen, depth perception being very tricksome in candlelight.
Although Earth Hour isn’t about turning off everything electric, I decided to also take the opportunity of digitally detoxing, so closed my laptop, turned over my phone, and found myself a book. I find candle flames very discombobulating. They don’t sit still, especially when there’s a gale howling outside. Just as the flame couldn’t concentrate, neither could I with reading. So I started writing notes instead. Did you know that electricity changed the transmission of folklore as it meant people didn’t need to crowd together over one light source so stories and traditions got lost? The notes turned into the start of a fairytale. And then, just as I was getting into it, the cat jumped into the nest, pinned my legs with her hefty chonk, and started dribbling, which broke that particular writing spell. Still half an hour to go.
I rested my eyes, as my mother likes to say, and listened to the windows rattle. The light from the flames played over my eyelids like I was trying to sleep under a tree in high summer, the sun interrupted by the leaves. Eventually I tuned into the syncopation, opened my eyes and picked up the book. After a brief moment contemplating contorting towards the candle, I held the candle in one hand against the book in the other. As a way of cocooning myself within the world of the story, candlelight really helped by being a terribly ineffective way to light anything beyond the page. After that, the rest of the hour went quickly.
The candles threw enough light for the lamp not to be harsh when I turned it back on. As an exercise in reminding me about climate change, it did its job, although I have to admit, right at this moment the hour did have a slight whiff of the apocalypse about it.