Westover: When a power failure is a psychological success

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I glanced down at my own ineffectual computer, where moments ago I’d be listening to prognostications on various process improvements, and I couldn’t help but feel something akin to liberation.

“No, you can’t,” I said, my expression gleeful. All those chattering kids, all their back and forth, all their inquisitive questions and comments, paused mid-sentence in a moment of reprieve.

We were quite literally removed from the demands of the day. It reminded me of the time when the klaxon went off in my old building downtown, or when the fire alarm would shrill, and we’d all mill about, then be dismissed early.

There is a special joy that comes with this kind of unexpected, unplanned freedom. It’s unencumbered by guilt, and the element of surprise makes it better than planned time off. In this case, not only were we cut loose from the demands of work and school, we were also untethered, however briefly, from the onslaught of COVID-19 updates and the daily grind of workaday chores.

We were left to our own devices – without the interruption of a single device.

My daughter played Barbies in the semi-darkness, as the battery powered fairy lights decorating the mantel glowed softly. The cookies sat atop the oven, unbaked. The laundry waited patiently to be switched over. The computers lay abandoned on their tables.

I wrapped myself in a blanket and took the most indulgent of afternoon naps. The weight of the last few months has been wearing; a constant track of worry like a ticker tape running in the background of our brains.

We are all exhausted, depleted and in need of a recharge. If you’re anything like me, it turns out the best way to do that is to have everything unplugged for you.

Suzanne Westover is the manager of strategic communications and a speechwriter at the Mental Health Commission of Canada.