I’d like to be able to say that the last week has led me into deeper awareness, spiritual growth and humility.
Yeah, I’d like to say that.
But I can’t.
Because, see – there was this storm called a “derecho” that barreled through our neighborhood with 70 mph winds at about 11pm on a Friday night:
and my family and I were plunged into darkness, with only:
which I had purchased either for Y2K, or after 9/11. We cranked that radio up and listened to the all-news radio station until none of us could keep our eyes open – and we fell asleep in the basement, the coolest place in our house.
Because I may not have mentioned that there was also a heat wave. Heat indices topped 105 degrees during the day, and fell back to the low 80s at night. So, it was hot, and there was no air conditioning, no cold drinks, no ice cream.
The only relief inside the house came on a feeble breeze which, if you were laying on the couch in a certain configuration, you might just feel. Slightly.
Like panting dogs, every day we did a lot of laying around, because exertion made things worse.
From time to time, we’d get in the car and drive, to power up the phones and take advantage of the air conditioning. These drives were depressing – store after store after store, closed. No power. Grocery stores – closed, with all the perishable stock thrown out. Restaurants – closed, having lost all of their refrigerated stuff. Gas stations closed – did you know some stations rely on power to make their pumps work? One night I drove over 10 miles in the dark “below empty” because I couldn’t find an open gas station.
Wide swaths of my area were dark at night, and then you’d find one lonesome block with a McDonald’s, a gas station, a 7-11 – mysteriously supplied with power. Packed to the gills. People waiting. People slightly shell-shocked. Slightly panicked. Below empty.
As each day passed, day after miserable day, my scope of focus got smaller and smaller. Would we have power that day? What would we eat? Could we get ice? Where could we get ice? Was Subway going to be open so we could get a sandwich? If not Subway, then where? Were my kids ok? Over-stressed? Dehydrated? Was it going to be possible to sleep that night? Which hotels are open? Should I have made reservations? Should I now? Were we going to have enough clean clothes? Were my dogs overheating?
I realized that I had slipped to the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
when I’m usually spending my life way up at the top.
Funny, that. We work, work, work on our own personal development and growth and then something comes along to knock us back down to basics.
Finally, on Tuesday after days of suffering, I found a hotel that would take us in for two nights. Of course, the power came back the next day.
That’s the way it works, y’all.
Oh, I’d like to say that making it through multiple days without power during a heat wave was the most illuminating and fulfilling Thoreau-type moment of my life.
But that would make me a liar.
Because it was hard. It was hot. It was a challenge.
Five nights and five days of scorching heat, and little relief. Believe me, I was not thinking of personal growth – I was thinking about water.
And ice cubes.
And how quickly everything can change from the top of the pyramid to the bottom.
And how if you’re focused on whether you’re going to eat, sleep, drink or … not, it’s really hard to do much else.
Maybe there is a lesson there, after all.