We had a bit of a windstorm here on Monday. They call it a ‘derecho’ and near as I can tell it was like a flattened out tornado with Category 3 force hurricane winds. It took out electricity to over 868,000 homes in the Chicago area including mine.
I had two and a half days of no electricity and it was a learning experience. I learned that much as I like to think of myself as living simply (heck, I don’t even watch TV) that I depend on electricity a LOT. I got to experience (not learn, I knew this part) how much I HATE heat and hot weather (give me 30 below before Chicago’s summer heat and humidity).
I learned what it must have been like for my grandparents before the Rural Electrification Act provided them electricity – you go to bed when the sun does and get up when it gets up. I wasn’t used to an 8:30 bedtime, but reading by lantern light quickly grew tiresome.
I’ve learned the value of INCREDIBLE neighbors/friends. My across the street neighbors came over while I was at work and moved all the food in my freezer and fridge to their extra refrigerator. Then invited me over for dinner to boot. They are beyond kind and thoughtful – just incredible human beings.
I learned how lucky we are, we Americans. How spoiled. How much we (I) take for granted. How much having all the time Internet access is something I rely on. How reading has been coming in second – a distant second most times.
I’m glad that some of my spiritual work is slowly seeping in. That I was grateful to our utility company for the great job they did, rather than bemoaning ‘my’ loss (we were all in this together, for sure). I’m glad that my response when the electricity came on hours before my out-of-town guest arrived was gratitude, not “it’s about blippin’ time”.
And I’m thinking a bit about how I live my life – here in this world – when I could be chasing ‘busy balls’ with my kittens or lying on the lawn watching the clouds go by.
Though as John prine pointed out – just being is hard for many of us:
“Why is it so hard
just to sit in the yard
and look at the sky so blue.”
For me this was the longest I’ve gone since I was a teenager without electricity. For some people – people in this country, not just third world nations – this is a way of life. While I want to live more simply and sustainability I want that living to involve lights at night, all the time Internet and coffee in the morning here in my house (much as I love Starbucks). I’m grateful that, for now at least, that is what I have.
If you’ve had some power outages I’d love to hear what you learned. What did you miss most? Least? What will you change after what you’ve learned? I really want to know!