Friday, September 9, 2011

power outage/ power outrage

The sun is setting and the power is out.

My first instinct is fear. It is quite possibly the remnant of many, many real truth I have begrudgingly viewed and/or my general Katrina guilt. I panic, inside.
I want, like many others, a safe connection- a thread that spans past my selflessness to a primal need I check daily- letting maternal rule- this time, here is is- uncaged by my youth, an unwanted desire to be even younger. Not responsible for solutions, under cover, excused from the truth. Held safely by something bigger that does not
disappoint. A mother, not father.

My second reaction is anger. I am frustrated, disappointed by the blinding realization that we as humans have created this. And we as self-serving, me-first kinda folk don't like it when the rug is pulled up from under, and what is left is our silence.

Our earth undoubtedly was here before any of us, therefore it is the "mother" from which we are all born. However, we have not honored it as good children, but have spent million of years overspending, over-indulging, wasting and abusing, justifying our actions with the feelings we try and avoid. Stuffing discomfor
t, loneliness, and fear away for a more convenient day. These increasing man-made emergencies and natural disasters reveal that our system of operating does in fact have an end; an end that will not be planned or welcomed but big enough to explain itself.

The moments where all technology is detached, the luxuries of a heated bulb, a computer, a microwave or ice box, are stripped away from our daily access are actual archives of weeks, years and decades once spent 'normally'. Now once removed they trigger looting, riots, irrational behaviors and bad driving. They are a catalyst for irresponsibility- yet at one time resembled the basic procedure for survival.

Looking at the city without street lamps, we seem as small as the stars. Naturally I relate to that disposability. I am human and yearn for that protection and illusion of immortality. That being said, I do not however associate with the sense of entitlement that I feel is the root of our degradation of our society's culture today. Too many people are perpetuating more people to absorb this trend of unaccountability- which leaves leaves who to blame?
I blame guns. War. Pesticides. Advertising. But that's another story...
We are evolving (technology-wise) the fastest in history. The downside is we are adapting to our natural environment less and less, in fact we are practically tuning it out completely. Nights of state-wide black outs are indicators of this decline.
We do not have cable- panic!
We do not have light- panic!
We have no T.V.- panic!
We don't have air conditioning- panic!
What we fail to realize is...
We have books. We have candles. We have conversations. We have sunsets and stars and a natural breeze. We may or may not have family, but we surely have neighbors. Friends.
Besides battery-operated distractions, being unplugged also means timelessness. Less wire-driven connectivity but more intuition. A more organic flow, a much softer glow to life. It's nice.

I challenge my instincts to react negatively and think, wait... slow down... shut it down. Look at the blessings of this. This is a good time to connect with your neighbors. If not now, when?
Why not cook all your perishables and share with your street block? Or take it to the homeless.
Finish some of those books you started. Paint your toenails. Glue down some collages.
Or, get out. Don't call, show up! Be hands on.
If not now, when?
Show your face San Diego.

And then like magic, a friend extends a welcome to her new home, "come have blackout beers with us on our patio" she says. And we do.
We carpool and make our way down to Golden Hill. It is an apocalyptic scene, especially in City Heig
hts. People are lined up at the liquor stores, like a candlelit vigil to ice cream, whiskey and anything cold. Holding flashlights to the windows of closed businesses, pulling on doors. 3 hours in and they're already looking to get their own. Everyone looks like freaking zombie's in the street. It's scary, out there.

But we get to Darci's and it is wonderful. She has started to smartly cook up everything in her fridge, and presents a delightful buffet of foods. Shrimp lettuce wraps and walnut chicken linguine, we have beer and (lotsa) wine and coffee ice cream for desert. We listen to her neighbor playing classic piano tunes like a mad man, and eventually invite him over. There are others there too, elvish-musicians and pretty girls who obviously do yoga...

The night was divine. We just talked and ate and talked and ate... We all agree we have much, so much to be thankful for. My heart bleeds for New Orleans, and the East Coast, for the states who much like us are spoiled then overnight ruined by a much larger force (I also bleed for Iraq-Iran-Pakistan, and the D.R.C, for they suffer a different kind of bondage)... but we have so much accessibility here to something greater beyond our own selfish needs. Instead our culture segregates, labels and isolates differences. We fear the unknown and stay emotionally locked up because of it. We do not explore the earth past our own quick glances at it, and we both suffer. We have an unused opportunity to get to know and grow together, to join forces, to collaborate and move forward fearlessly...

There is a concept in Disability Rights called "time banking", which operates off the belief that we all are/have assets and we can all use each other. We can look at an individuals gifts and build social networks based on reciprocity and respect. As community members, nice neighbors, and stakeholders in this society, we can all use the redefinition of "work" beyond a "price". Especially in this current economic crisis, there is no end in sight. We need to build community connections and break stereotypes so when the power goes out, we don't just survive, we thrive.

It takes one night of complete technological- withdraw to fuel this much introspection. Imagine what would happen if everyone, just one day a week acted as the power was out. Look at what we would gain by knowing our 'hood more thoroughly, and the residents more personally. More so, how we would discover our very own selves? To take personal inventory and recognize what gifts we bring to the table, and what we need help with.

We need to start unplugging more often just to tune in, to get re-centered about what really matters beneath the mask of what we have decided it should look like. We may be surprised at what we find.
I just hope it doesn't take another mess to make that happen.


  1. So very true, Human nature is to spoil ourselves and those we love. Glad my Daughter-O could help to enlighten the darkened evening with you all.

  2. Maybe one day when all this is gone will the epoch occur; perhaps it's already occurred for some of us - a moment that truly makes us realize how much of a distraction we had gotten ourselves into. How does one cope with death or infidelity in the wild? How does the human mind function thrust into a state-of-nature? Are we even still capable of coming to terms with the harsh, raw pureness of the elements, let alone live honorably and naked as we once did among them? Or have our concepts and comforts of civilization so detrimentally domesticated and dulled our spirits that fresh-cut fire wood would seem callous to our smooth hands? It's hard enough bearing the burdens of a 'civilized' reality within the confines of socioeconomics, city streets, laws and cinder-blocks; but what a triumph it must be to bear even greater burdens, survival aside- as men and women, among entire forest regions, deserts, rivers and mountain ranges. Progress damned by lava and ice. The permanence and longevity of the natural world astounds.