The whirring of the fan stops abruptly.
The page won’t load despite my frantic clicks. I check my newsfeed, this time on my phone, but the feed won’t load either. There are no miniscule bars showing above the network connection icon.
Panic sets in. The truth settles uncomfortably.
The power has cut out.
My anxiety rises quickly.
I can hear the sound of lost productivity ticking away by the second.
I manage to grapple at efficiency a few minutes longer, reading some pre-loaded articles I’ve been meaning to get at. I update some Word documents, and organize a few folders on my desktop.
I take a few rushed breaths. That’s about 10 more minutes of efficacy I’ve managed to salvage.
I automatically check my phone again, scroll through some old pictures, re-read a few messages. Damn. Those things are pretty limited without wifi. I toss the phone aside.
My breath comes out in an impatient huff.
I look back to my laptop. I’m unwilling to surrender to idleness, but the glow of the screen seems to be taunting me.
I close it reluctantly.
I notice the soft click the laptop makes as it shuts. I don’t think I’ve noticed that before.
Another breath. This one slightly fuller.
My journal, with a pen sticking out of it, is lying on my bed.
I pick up the pen slowly. The old friend still remembers me. We start to dance, slowly at first, unsure and awkward as the ink begins painting words across the page. But, eventually we find our well-worn rhythm.
I look up in the space where the laptop screen was, now closed, and notice the beams of sunlight slicing through the sheer, burgundy curtains. There is a dull, brown-coloured butterfly perched in the corner of the bungalow ceiling, lazily flapping its wings. For a second I think it is a frog or small mammal, or the four-inch snail that came by last night, making its second appearance.
I notice the sound of the birdsong outside. The fullness of the hot, stuffy late afternoon air engulfs me, reminding me of the bitter death of the fan.
I actually listen to—not just hear—the thwack as another one of those ripe, still unidentified, tropical fruits hits the ground. They’ve been moulting from that tree for days.
I see lush, human-sized, green banana leaves outside my window, bobbing gently in the breeze, and the roof of the neighbouring bungalow, a patchwork of foot-long, faded brown leaves hewn together with thin strings of bamboo.
The evening chorus of the bullfrog, the crickets, and the cicadas breaks the stillness. They belt out their eager anticipation of the setting sun, calling in the time when the stifling heat will go away.
I haven’t eaten anything all day, my appetite dulled by the torrid heat, and I can feel the empty hollow of my stomach.
The sound of an easy, Thai melody plays softly from somewhere nearby. Damn, it must be a battery powered radio.
My spine is stiff from hours of sitting in front of the laptop, only a couple worn cushions separating my bum from the hardwood floor. I slump further down, leaning only the top of my back against the thin wooden walls. My lower spine cracks deliciously.
The bottle of water I took out of the freezer this morning is now completely melted. I take a few slow sips, grateful that the water is at least still cool. I put the bottle back down. Beads of sweat line the plastic Crystal Pure water bottle (salvaged out of the recycling bin earlier this week).
The croaking of a toad sounds from somewhere outside. That’s odd—their chorus doesn’t usually come until much later. I can hear the trickle of the fountain creek bubbling in the background. At least the pipes haven’t been shut off too.
The girl in the bungalow beside me is humming a simple, off-key tune. Her baby makes soft murmuring noises.
Then suddenly—the thrum of the fan starts unexpectedly, the sign that the wifi is also back up and running.
The brief pause in the world comes to a close.
I reach out for my laptop instinctively, with the intention to make up for lost time with increased efficiency, but my hand freezes in mid-air.
I realize I’m grateful for the power cut. There was, in fact, no time lost at all. This blessing in disguise has allowed me to slow down.
It has given me space to pause—a refreshing intermission in our world of rushing, efficiency, and productivity.
It has allowed me to feel safe putting pen to paper—the first time I have really written in over a week, without fear that I could be doing something more “important.”
It reminds me that life goes on beyond the wifi connection.
It has given me space to get connected to what was—what is—real. It has allowed me to open my eyes, ears, and senses to the reality that continuously surrounds me, the reality my efficiency does not allow the time to be fully present to.
In a world addicted to speediness, it has given me the space to be, instead of do.
As I open my laptop, I take a second to pause and feel the soft plastic of a few individual keys on the keyboard. I trace the familiar square shapes under my fingertips. The black and white of the keys makes me think of a piano, only this instrument sings a different tune.
I notice the small scratches on the sleek, silver bed in which the keys lay, and move my eyes slowly toward the rectangle power button in the top left-hand corner of the keyboard.
I gently press my finger to the button.
I note, for the first time, the vividness of the electric blue light that has appeared. It is signalling that efficiency has resumed. As I press the refresh button to reload the frozen page, I make a mental note to incorporate these mindful moments into my day more often.
They are quite refreshing.
Author: Michelle Amanda Jung
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
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