No lights: what a bright idea!

Load shedding – it’s here to stay. So let’s shed some light on at least one benefit.

I’m at home with two of my dependents, usually negotiating laptops, lag and the fibre connection. In our house, where all activities are now centralised during lockdown, load shedding is a blessing: no arguments about who gets Netflix over FIFA; whether uploading the school assignment is more important than submitting the deadline report; or if the prime spot for internet connection belongs to the single parent or the first-born child.

Left with little to bicker about when the electricity shuts down, we have reverted to a new challenge: an eight-week exercise programme. Each day, instead of a morning greeting, we call out our commitments (school, lectures, meetings, essays, projects, deadlines) and the degree to which each is flexible or not. Can it be done before or after training, or must we work the training around a fixed schedule? Then the most tech-savvy child checks the app, EskomSePush, and announces the anticipated time for load shedding. The other child, pseudo-but-stern trainer-of-note, assesses the exercise routine and its requirements.

Mom just waits for the instructions.

Load shedding is the perfect fit for our physical challenge. Turns out, it’s also the perfect opportunity for a little bonding. And banter. And even an occasional barney (when last did you hear that word?). 

Off we go, six days a week, an hour at a stretch, minimum. (Wow … did I ever think I’d actually keep up with the kids!?) The lights go out and we get going. Who needs a generator? At this rate, we’re pumping more than enough energy to keep the system from failing. We can get to our work or education without a struggle in the wee morning hours or the late evening quiet when the electricity is back on. We are alert and energetic. Our bodies are switched on and our minds are activated.

I don’t really fancy eating supper late or skipping breakfast in favour of exercise. I also find the midday training a little sweaty and even stinky at times.  I do agree that the timing is not always ideal but we’re stuck with what we’re given as Eskom sounds the alarm (in our house at least) for get-fit-fast! All in all, it’s the perfect way to do something self-serving without having to let anyone else know. While my colleagues and clients curse the noisy generators in their midst or the web access they are denied while working on a task, I’m boiling up other stuff and releasing a whole lot of worries and woes.

… Before we know it … Beep beep, the modem sounds. We know Eskom’s function is restored. It signals the return to duty and dictate; to lights and resumed load. Sigh … darkness of another form. But not for me and my little (big) ones, for we’ve shed stress and possibly even some weight. We’ve also shed our lethargy along with our frustration. We’re in good form and high spirits.

So thank you Eskom for turning off the lights, every now and then, and even sometimes a little too regularly. For us it’s proving to be a surprisingly bright idea that brings light to the end of a very different tunnel.

It’s a load we’ll continue to bear.

Author’s note: Thank you to SAFREAN coleague Gudrun Kaiser, for editing this post.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


4 Responses

  1. Yes, Alexis. Thanks for reminding us that there are, and that we should recognise the small unexpected benefits of an idiotic situation. I enjoy the silence. No whir of the computer fan. No hum of the refrigerator. Absolute silence. Bliss.

  2. Thanks, Alexis for your highly inspirational insights and humorous perspective! Oh and although I’ve not heard of it before now, I imagine most Capetonians are aweh of EskomSePush

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