In this culture of gadgets to use for almost every moment in life we often don’t give a thought to what it would be like without them. Until something breaks, we usually take technology for granted. I grew up with an electric beater that we used to whip cream. When I learned about gears, I curiously messed around with wires and gears to make a hand beater. I even drew a blue print for one that would fit over a jar and beat things. One day the beater died. Then, to my utter delight, we found a hand-run beater inherited from a grandparent. Now I get to wind up the gears every time and see in action, and to feel the way it works.
Electric lighting has been one of those things we usually take for granted. As a child always entranced by old things, I have many a time wanted to live with only candles. During various harsh storms I have actually had the chance to do so. About a year and a half ago, several horrible tornadoes swept the southeast, leaving us out of power for days. I learned that mirrors help a great deal to reflect the light of a candle. Even though the bathroom has no windows, it became the easiest room to light because it has a huge mirror.
If we used candles every day, many parts of our life would change. One detail that I find makes me laugh inside is how much make-up we wear. In dim lighting, so few of the little discrepancies of our faces can really be noticed. I once had the honor of attending a ballet at a prestigious theatre. On the way to the bathroom there is a little parlor with a number of vanities placed here and there. The room is lit with lamps that appear to be oil lit with elegant, Victorian-styled, colored-glass globes. This dims the light in the room. I glanced in the mirror and saw that the lighting hid nearly all those little blemishes I can see on my skin. I realized that once upon a time when people didn’t light up every room with bright light bulbs, one wouldn’t really need to wear concealer over every tiny blemish. The dim light of candles once beautifully hid the tiny blemishes our culture now tries so hard to cover up.
As a die-hard romantic I often chose to live with candles instead of light bulbs. However, I am highly thankful for Thomas Edison’s marvelous invention. Tending candles takes a large amount of time, and one cannot leave them burning unattended. I will always love candles, and use them at every chance I receive, but I will always use electric lights too.