Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thank you, Irene.

The power in my home went out in the middle of the night on Saturday. I'm not exactly sure what time but would guess somewhere around 1 AM. I managed a reasonably good night of sleep despite the howling winds and rain blowing on the side of the house it never really blows on.

There still wasn't power when I woke Sunday morning. And we remained without power until 1 PM this afternoon - this is now Thursday. This is, by far, the longest I've ever gone without electricity in my world and I must say I learned a few valuable lessons.

Lesson 1: Wishing for Something Different is Futile
For the first 36 hours or so, I would wander around telling the power to come back on. As if it could hear me and as if my pleas would make any difference. It made me feel powerful, for a time, and then it made me feel desperate. I stopped asking it to return.

Lesson 2: Ingenuity (or desperation) is the Mother of Invention
I was able to boil water for coffee as I have a gas stove and simply lit the stove with a lighter. I did not, however, grind any coffee beans in preparation. Sunday morning. No power. Rainy and damp. Whole coffee beans mocking me. I wanted my coffee. After a few moments of pondering, I got a Ziploc bag and my Grandma's old rolling pin which I'd kept for the memories. A towel on the counter and a bit of good whacking and I had myself some crushed coffee beans. It was, perhaps, the best cup of coffee ever.

Lesson 3: Habits are Hard to Break, Unless they're Pointless
I knew the lights wouldn't work and I knew turning the faucets wouldn't produce any water. And yet, time and time again, I would flip a switch or turn a knob and nothing. It took until sometime on Wednesday for me to not do so 100% of the time. I was improving and wonder how much longer it would have taken for me to give up the habit completely.

Lesson 4: Silence is Golden
A few short hours into Sunday morning and slowly the din of generators began to fill the neighborhood. I had one, but since I was spending my time willing the power to come back on (and was convinced it would work), I didn't bother dragging my generator out until late Sunday (or more accurately asked my son to do so for me). By then, I figured the refrigerator could use some juice before everything spoiled and, quite honestly, I wanted to charge my mobile phone, laptop and air card (yes, this wasn't the slumming version of blackouts, I'll fully admit). I went to bed with my generator humming on the rear deck and the slightly less loud humming of the generators from my neighbors. And it quickly and firmly drove me crazy. I turned mine off and went back to bed, resigned to tossing some food and convinced that sleep was more important than a few bottles of condiments, some cheese and some kale. I did throw away the food, gave the fridge and freezer the best cleaning ever, used the generator sparingly throughout the day to charge my electronics (and grind my coffee beans) and had a much more peaceful existence.

Lesson 5: Change is Freedom
Relatively quickly, I established a new order. Have old water cooler bottles filled at the fire station for flushing toilets and washing dishes. Take the dog for a long walk in the morning. Go to bed with the darkness. Read by candelight. Keep up with only the critical work tasks and do the many things normally left undone in our busy lives. I cleaned out closets. I sorted books. I went to have a massage (mostly for the shower afterwards). Made some phone calls. Created piles and piles of things to donate to charity.

I think, perhaps, we get so caught up by what usually see that we forget about our ability to see things differently. I had a "plan" for my week which was carried away with the winds and rain of Irene. I had my routines which were replaced with only the truly necessary things. And, gratefully, I had room to live a different life for a few days.

Thank you, Irene. You opened my eyes in all the darkness you brought.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciated reading your post. Sometimes life delivers its messages in unique ways. We don't realize how much we are creatures of habit and how dependent we are on things. Something like Irene "unfreezes" us.