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In the dark

posted by Tim Carmody   Jun 08, 2018

Rebecca Boyle writes about her daughter’s first power outage:

“It’s too dark in here. Mommy, I want you to turn my nightlight back on, please,” my daughter said matter-of-factly.

I realized I needed to explain. This was not her first power outage — ah, aging St. Louis utility lines — but it was the first one she would experience, as opposed to ignoring as an oblivious infant. I wondered what it must feel like to suddenly go without a thing you have never lacked. It would be weird to be bereft of something so ever-present, it is practically a nutrient. A thing you can’t really understand but have never been unable to access, since the second you arrived in your own skin.

On Twitter, Rebecca notes that her essay is also not-so-covertly about the tragic inevitability of death, and so forth. A power outage is definitely a strong metaphor for thinking about death: it happens suddenly, inevitably, disruptively, and repeatedly, but each time feels uncanny and fresh. And as much as you’d like to just wait it out, there’s always work to do: someone has to get the children to sleep, someone has to pump the water out of the basement.