This is not a rhetorical question. Do you always turn on the lights in your house? In a motel room? At a stranger’s house? (We can ignore the question “when do you turn on your headlights — that answer is pretty consistent from state to state. We needn’t quibble about accepted practice.)
Growing up in our house there was a sense that telephones and electricity were expensive. I can remember the day when we went from a party line to a private line — that seemed (to my parents) an unreasonable added expense but my dad needed to be available to be called into work so we bore the expense. And, he might have worked for the local electric utility but there were certainly no employee discounts, that’s for sure! I grew up hearing that electric heating was so ‘terribly expensive’ — a theory I never tested until a month ago.
My point being that in the back of my brain there is this monster called “Wasting Energy” and I was taught to respect it. That, and the fact that I know my way around my own home.
- I keep the floor cleared of obstructions.
- I may not be blind, and I may not have counted the steps from every point to every other point but I’m perfectly able to walk through our home in the dark.
So, a lot of the time I go from place to place and never turn on the lights. And I’m perplexed because when I visit people it seems they have all the lights on all the time. And photos of new interior design seem to have pot-lights and task lighting and all manner of light controls and I just wonder “why all the lights?”
I like light! I like natural light. As a photographer I’m plenty familiar with task lighting — I made my living with it. But I still don’t get why people need so many lights; and when they have them why they are always turned on?
Heck — I even walk around motel rooms in the dark. Because I’ve often had jobs where I worked on computers I tend to keep my offices dark. More than once visitors to my place of work thought I was out of the building because the lights were off in my office. Of course there was the glow of the computer terminal (in the days of “computer terminals”) — but they didn’t seem to consider that adequate. What’s the matter with a little dim lighting?
At my age I’m not going to change. But I have to say that when I hear TV commercials about seniors who “have fallen and can’t get up,” I do ponder the whole walking-around-in-the-dark way of living. Peggy is quicker with a light switch. That’s ok. Sometimes I walk around after her turning OFF the lights — but not too often. And I have the strangest habit of leaving lights on in certain places even when no one’s in the room — so how’s that for consistency? I will occasionally leave a light on in my office all day — and I may not be there at all.
I’ve wondered sometimes whether it’s an issue with glare. I wear prescription sunglasses outdoors most of the time. Peggy is always asking me (when the sun is going down) “are you sure you don’t want you regular glasses yet?” And it’s not that I have a medical condition where I can’t see correctly in bright light. I see just fine. I just prefer that it not be quite so bright. Or not quite to light. Or maybe even a little darker!
It’s funny how we learn to behave in certain ways and gradually those learned behaviors become who we are. I’ve often said that as we age we become caricatures of our younger selves as some traits are emphasized and others minimized.
Thanks for stopping by, and if you ever come to visit, don’t worry, We’ll turn the lights on for you just like Motel 6… In the meantime, I’ll be here again tomorrow. Stop in and say hi (in the dark).