Since Tropical Storm Michael came knocking on my door last Thursday at around 6 PM I have been without power.
And the ability to make my own tea and coffee. Which is by far the most inconvenient part of It All.
But there is more. I’ve had to toss out a lot of food. And I had to buy a lot of things to bring The Light. And batteries and oil to make the things that bring the actually bring The Light.
Sitting in The Dark for two days (yes — it was only two days — the power came back on Saturday night around 9 PM — which is why I can now use my computer Sunday morning) I learned a whole lot of shit about myself. And it came as quite the shock — because frankly, I was rather cocky about All The Things I know about myself.
Which just goes to show you how deep the human soul truly is and the fact we NEVER stop learning and growing.
Here are some of my insights from sitting in The Dark:
I was, at first, ok with the lack of power. I had fully charged both phones and my computer. I still had water. It was raining cats, dogs, monkeys, and elephants out. I had expectations as I live in a very populated area my power would be restored shortly because it always had been so in the past. I based my current situation on my past experiences. Yes, I know — I can practically hear your sighs of disbelief coming through the internet as you’re reading this. Complete Rookie mistake.
I went to bed content in the knowledge when I awoke Life would be as it always had been. But it was not. I spent the morning automatically flipping light switches which refused to bend to my will. I put in contact lens to the glow of an anemic flashlight. I got dressed with the same flashlight and hoped the shirt I picked was indeed the gray one — not the green one because really in that light they kinda looked the same. I left early for work where there was coffee and food.
Then it happened — I drove to the end of my street and ALL THE STREET LIGHTS WORKED. Even the cricket field/playground/park next door had floodlights. Every development I drove by was flooded with lights. Only my development was without power. And my ire rose. I could feel the WTF?s crashing around in my brain.
When I got to work, I accessed Duke Power’s website to report my outage — just in case we had somehow been forgotten. I saw on the outage map — only 137 people in my small development were without power for miles around us. Would we be a priority? Would anyone care about only that many people? In the over 500,000 souls without power, surely we were just an afterthought. And I went from WTF? to abandonment in one single beat of my heart.
I came home from work later in the day — still no change in status. The Duke Power website promised they were sending a crew out. I went to yoga and tried to find my center. After yoga, I texted a neighbor who told me our status had been upgraded on the website to restoring power by 2345 on Monday night. MONDAY. It was Friday. And 2345 is nearly Tuesday. That’s like selling something for $9.95 instead of $10. It was going to be Tuesday before I had the ability to make my own coffee. I was undone. I could feel the panic starting.
I drove to my favorite wing place for food. And beer. And people. The Universe provided all the above — in fact, She threw in Karaoke just to help me feel better about myself. And I formed a plan sitting there listening to some poor drunk white dude trying to hit the high notes that only Axel Rose is capable of. Sweet Child Of Mine.
I went to Walmart and bought $70 in oil lamps/oil/lanterns/candles/ice. I proceeded to come home and settle in for The Duration. My SO suggested a hotel and it was a brilliant plan. I wished I had thought of it BEFORE I had spent all that money on oil lamps/oil/lanterns/candles/ice. Lesson: Phone a friend because when you’re stressed — fight or flight sometimes shuts down the ‘flight’ pathway -which is often your best bet. Independence is sometimes a handicap.
Stubbornly, I took myself home and proceeded to light my home with All The Things. I found I fell in love with the oil lamp. Suddenly I was brave again. I took my lantern and searched my home — even closets, under beds, and behind shower curtains — because power outages also knock out security systems. My completely blacked out neighborhood was a sitting duck.
Turning from civilization onto my street was another feeling of the surreal. No street lights, no porch lights, no warm glow from homes. My neighborhood was a Black Hole — a Ghost Town. No movements. No one walking their dogs. Nothing but The Dark.
I went to sleep that night with my second-floor windows open because there was also no air conditioning. Thankfully it was cooler the day after Michael blew through town bringing full-on fall with him. But I live by an airport and I have asthma, I never leave my windows open. My ability to take my breathing treatments was also compromised — I was sitting in my car doing them grateful my nebulizer came with a ‘travel’ attachment for cigarette lighter outlets. And thankful my car still provided this option. I could feel Fear nibble at the edges of my being until I finally drifted off.
Monday — at 2345…that was going to be the day and the time Life returned to normal. According to the outage website. As I fell asleep I thought — This isn’t a sprint. Ok…
Saturday I awoke to daylight. I understand now why birds sing at dawn. I have survived another Dark and it is daybreak! I went about making arrangements to give away the frozen food I know I could not save. I looked deep into my heart and found this was the most troubling issue I faced. I did not want to waste what Nature had so generously provided to me — not in a world where people go to bed hungry. I then went in search of my own coffee and breakfast.
I began to look at the experience with detachment at last. Post cup of coffee #2. Once I got past the expectation, the WTF?, the abandonment, the panic, the fear. And even the gratitude and joy of survival.
By Saturday I thought I was in a good place to cruise on through until Life resumed its rhythm. I had moved into Assumption. Again — Rookie mistake. Because it takes you out of your Now experience.
A peek at our status on the outage website showed good news as well — they had upgraded our ETA to power from Monday at 2345 to Saturday at 2345. Hurray!
I sat in peace, reading a great book by Sharon Salzberg on Loving Kindness. I could feel myself nodding and opening up as I read about Metta. The room got a bit darker and I lit my lovely oil lamp. I turned the camping lantern up at my side so I could read. I lit some candles around the room and it glowed beautifully. I oozed contentment.
Then my phone beeped a text. Duke Power claimed my power would be on in 30 minutes. Wowza! How great was that??
I don’t even probably need to tell you what happened next — do I? My power did not come back on in 30 minutes. In fact, a look at the website showed we had been moved back to Monday at 2345 AND now they thought only two people in my development were without power.
I went from content to WTF? Faster than a drag racer goes from zero to 300 mph. Just. Like. That.
Attachment to expectation. Disappointment. Anger. It flooded me. With just one text.
Thankfully, I had a date. With a most wonderful soul. He showed up on the heels of all that mess. He took me out and fed me. Not just food, but laughter and caring. He reminded me of All The Important Shit. And having lights was so far down that list it was ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous.
While we were listening to a great cover band play some Tom Petty, my neighbor texted me with the news — The Dark was banished. We had power in our development again.
It was good news. But sitting there in that pub, I already had a Light Source of my own working their Magic to drive out The Dark. Great company, excellent Irish beer, and Tom Petty played by people who knew how it was done.
I sat in my Now. The Past and all those moments completely vanished with their expectations, abandonment, WTF?s, fear, and panic. The Future with even more expectations, fear, and panic also disintegrated.
Now shone through.
It was all that mattered. And my Now completely kicked ass.