As a full-time college student with a long commute (1 hour 30 minutes one-way by bus) to and from work, I have been spending the weekends at work. I’ve got a cot and clothes hangers and a locker and a gym with showers… so I’ve made it work. Near the start of my overnight shift, during heavy rain, we had a mass power outage. The backup generators kicked on for a moment, then shut off.

Initially, I was annoyed; whoever’s job it was to maintain the generators that were supposed to work in these exact conditions had failed us. Later in the day, it was apparent that routine maintenance had not been done properly and that numerous things had been neglected, leading to three blown fuses, two failed generators, and two full days of no power, including Monday, meaning the school could not operate.

My co-worker and friend came on shift the next day and we tried to figure out what we would do on his shift, and what I would do with no power on my overnight shift. My laptop died and none of the outlets worked, leaving only a USB charger in the work truck. There was no WiFi. Left to our own devices, we walked around the campus before checking out the rooftop of the library building. As I watched the sun set, I noticed a sense of calm come over me. I realized that in less than a full day, and with none of the digital technology we use so often, time had already begun to slow and my visual field opened up. I wasn’t craning my neck and narrowly staring into a screen.

We talked over this, because we both experienced it, and discussed mindfulness and just how distracted we had become. We meditated for a while, and before long, his shift was over. Though being the only soul on-campus overnight with no power was initially creepy, the lack of lighting and electric buzzing amplified this mindfulness. I have not felt this peaceful in… I don’t know how long. I decided this would prompt a change.

I have cleared my smartphone and have moved all of the useful functions from it to my laptop. I got rid of my social media accounts. I no longer have notifications to tug at my attention. A couple of books came in, and though I have a Kindle, I think I’ll opt for paper and ink, an item that needs no electricity or battery to run, and which simply fulfills its sole function; to be read. There are no ads to ignore or dismiss, no other function inside the book that can be used to distract one from the task.

Though I wouldn’t recommend that routine maintenance be neglected, I wouldn’t mind the school losing power more often.

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