There is one date on the calendar that never fails to bring a complexity of emotions. For some it is feelings of anxiety over finding the perfect gift to show the love of your life how much you care. For others it is feelings of despair, wondering when they will ever find that one true love. Whether you call it Valentine’s Day or Single’s Awareness Day or even something in between, year after year, the day of chocolate and roses and candy hearts will surely arrive. But regardless of how this calendar date makes us feel, there is one thing that we all seem to do on this day – reflect on our relationships.
We might reflect on our first love and how we believed that nothing could take away the magic we felt. I thought I was going to marry my first love. He was charming, handsome and kind. As I stood on the stage rehearsing for the school talent show, I just knew that when I sang my rendition of “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow,” wearing my favorite ruffle dress with curls in my hair, our eyes would meet, and he would fall madly in love. But when I woke up the morning of the big show with a terrible fever, my dreams of romance were soon dashed. I never got to sing to him that night and my longing for his affections soon faded away. But what does a first-grader know about love anyways?
We may reflect on the relationships that taught us how we should be treated, even when it came with the price tag of loss or heartbreak. When I had matured to the ripe age of twenty-five and thought I had found “the one,” I seemed to be willing to change and adapt in the name of love. I was willing to give my all, one hundred and ten percent. Unfortunately, he was willing to give much, much less.
He owned a car that was a “classic,” and it was classically in dire need of repairs, especially working brakes. He loved the car but didn’t love to drive it. He did, however, love to drive my well-maintained vehicle. On an evening like any other, he convinced me that I should drive his “classic” to work, even though it was extremely unsafe, so he could drive my car. In a loving stupor, or rather stupidity, I agreed. If he cared about me, he wouldn’t put me in danger, right?
I can still remember the terror I felt as my foot slammed on the brake pedal, over and over, as I tried to exit the freeway without the ability to slow down or stop. As I raced towards the signal that was beaming a bright red, I closed my eyes and sent a prayer to the heavens. The light suddenly turned green and I managed to turn and coast to a rolling stop without being hit by another car on the busy intersection. As I sat on the side of the road contemplating my current situation, I realized that this wasn’t about the brakes, or lack thereof. It was about how I was being treated. I wish I could say that this moment of clarity helped me to ditch the classic car guy for good, but it would take many more years before I was willing to act and change how I allowed him to treat me.
Reflecting on relationships, such as these, helps us to understand what we really want. At the end of the day, what most of us really want is to be with someone who has our back, our best interest at hand; someone who cares about our future as much as their own. Someone who makes us feel happy and hopeful. Yet why do so many of us remain in relationships that are missing so much?
Take your relationship with your utility, for example. Your utility provides you with something that you need and want, something extremely valuable to you – electricity. In return, you graciously offer your thanks and heartfelt appreciation by showering your investor-owned utility with what it wants and holds most valuable - lots and lots of money. This may seem like a healthy relationship. You both provide what the other wants and needs. But let’s dig a little deeper.
Does your utility really care about your best interest? Do they really have your back and care about your future as much as their own? Just as I realized with the classic car guy, you might just be realizing now - that your utility does not treat you the way you deserve to be treated. The sad truth is that their primary objective is to make their investors the most amount of money possible, even if it means risking your financial and environmental health to do so. When I came to this realization myself, I discovered that a relationship with solar energy was a much better relationship to invest in.
You see, solar power does have your back and your best interest at hand. It cares about your future. It allows you to use natural and clean energy to power your everyday life and move away from finite fossil fuels. It allows you to stop giving away the money you work so hard to earn to greedy investors and instead use it on things that make you feel happy and hopeful, like your children, giving to charity or maybe even playing a round of golf. Most importantly, solar power treats you the way you deserve to be treated. It doesn’t take but truly only gives.
And while I never had the chance to walk on the stage and belt out a melodious tune to my first love at the school talent show, I certainly do have the chance to choose how I am treated. I choose to ditch the “classic” utility and go with the relationship that I deserve, and this time it won’t take me so long to act. Solar power may not be the relationship I had in mind this year, but it is certainly going to be one of the best relationships I will have. And that, my friends, is how my relationships taught me about solar power.