Yesterday the power went off. The computer screen flickered for a moment and I thought it might just be a "brown out" but it continued to stutter and finally went black. The lights went out, the fridge stopped humming, all was quiet.
Whenever the power goes out I am reminded how much we rely on electricity to function in our daily lives. Can't send an email, can't write a document, can't call anyone, can't make a hot meal, no hot water. When the power goes off we are forced to re-think our next steps. How can I do what needs to be done unplugged?
In 1997, I was living in Montreal. That was the winter of the famous Ice Storm. It was everything you heard it was and more. The city was under siege by ice.
I saw telephone poles bent in half from the weight of the ice, bowing and broken trees, cars stopped in the middle of the road, abandoned by their owners, unable to drive any further. The city was in darkness. It felt like the apocalypse.
Except, in our little apartment, we had power. For some reason the block on which I lived did not succumb to the blackout. We were one of the few lucky spots in the city that had heat, light and all the comforts of home.
We felt guilty (and grateful) for our good fortune so we decided we ought to be living in the dark, too. We conserved heat and kept the lights off most of the time. We called the emergency hotline and offered our place as a refuge but were told most people were already looked after.
When the power went off yesterday I wondered how long. Would it come back in less than an hour? It usually does. What if it didn't? Could this be something bigger? Would it be days? It's cold outside. How would we keep warm?
Unable to do anything much, I went to lie down and have a rest. The power came on half an hour later and I got up, relieved, and resumed my work.
But something had changed. I was newly aware of my good fortune. There's nothing like a power outage to build gratitude. I have so much. It's so easy to take it for granted! Flip the switch and it's on and Bob's your uncle.
People in Montreal and the surrounding communities survived that Ice Storm. Resiliency, generosity, charity, and community prevailed. There were people without power for weeks and weeks but time passed and they got it back and everyone made it work. It was not the end of the world.
The moment of panic I felt with yesterday's blackout was followed by some pretty serious self-talk generated by that kind of big-picture thinking. "In the moment I am always okay. This too shall pass. All will be well."
Looking at the big picture is not simply seeing the bright side of things, although that helps. It is a way to remind ourselves that nothing is the end of the world.
Inspiring Message of the Day: Electricity is a power that makes things easier but it is not the Ultimate Power. If I trust the Ultimate Power in times of crisis then my fear has no sway.