There wasn’t a major thunderstorm or news of a car crash, but last night there was an electrical outage in our entire neighborhood. In an instant, the fan stopped humming, the air conditioning wasn’t blowing its air, and there wasn’t sounds of falling ice in the refrigerator. It was amazing how quiet the house became without its usual suspects stirring up some noise.
As I walked in the dark, I fumbled for the flashlight in the drawer. Once I found it, we headed outside to the patio. It was a clear night, with an almost full moon which offered temporary light outside. We saw people outside, mulling around, their identity unknown with just a silhouette.
My gaze turned to the sky, taking refuge under the stars. I struggle to live in the moment, but with no electricity, I embraced this forced silence. Everything was still, as my mind turned to my thoughts. I wasn’t plugged into anything. The television was off, the wifi disabled, and the lights gone. I couldn’t busy myself with chores in the house or create activities for myself. Instead, I sat with my husband, observing stars, trying to explain the different constellations to my four year old.
It was nice, this temporary reprieve from constant motion. And for the first hour, I appreciated it. But then I started feeling a little irritated. It was a hot night, the temperature about 98 degrees, the air in the desert, dry and unrelenting. As hour 2 approached without electricity, bedtime approached, but I couldn’t sleep. I need air circulating to sleep, so as I lay in my bed, my mind started churning again. I thought about the food spoiling, the fact that my whole schedule the next day would be off because I couldn’t get to sleep, and my irritation that the flashlight was starting to become a permanent companion.
As hour three approached, my mind shifted again, thinking about people who live without electricity everyday. I was astounded to learn that 1.6 billion people, a quarter of humanity, live without electricity. That number is so large, so vast, I can’t even quantify it. It made me sad, thinking about this. I felt guilty about my earlier irritation, knowing that my life in the dark, was only temporary. The lights would come on eventually. And they did.
Four hours later, the fan hummed again, the air condition revved up its organs, and there was light everywhere. The house filled again with its ordinary chatter. I felt the cool breeze of the fan on my face and the gust of air blowing from the vent above me. I settled under the covers again, thinking about the various shifts in my mind’s thoughts: welcoming quiet, irritated by inconvenience, guilt about my irritation, and relief of things moving back to normalcy.
There were lessons in embracing the darkness, but I realized because of my conflicting emotions, I have so much to learn, so much to appreciate about my life.
I am still fumbling, even when there is light.
What lessons have you learned when you are inconvenienced? How do you deal with interruptions in normalcy? What experiences can you share about what you learned when facing a power outage?