SURVIVED MY FIRST REAL HURRICANE THIS WEEK. Power and water are out all over Florida in the wake of Irma. Our power has been out all week as well. Rumor has it, it could be up to two weeks before it’s restored in the area.
Have spent the week throwing out bag after bag of spoiled food from the fridge, using flash lights and candles to get to the bathroom, waking up every 45 minutes in pools of my own sweat…
But you know?
I’ve enjoyed the power outage. I’ve loved it.
No way to charge my phone at the house so I shut myself off from it for the entire night. No television to slavishly spend hour after hour in front of. No music or radios to drown out the medicinal silence that awaits me after overdosing on noise and more noise all day long.
All the time in the world to do nothing but sit in the absolute silence and darkness, unshackled from distractions, to meditate, pray and dream about the things above. Late quiet nights doing nothing but sitting outside and staring into the dark as I think and breathe and reminisce on good times from days long past.
When I see my culture rabidly cheering and hurrying armies of lineman trucks, I get the excitement. Those are the hardest working people on the planet and they’re doing a service to us.
But more than a part of me is disgusted by it – the thought of impatiently demanding (and often cursing) that these people jump to our personal time table expectations (all 2 million of us at once no less) – people who are risking their life’s not for national freedoms in a foreign war but for our luxuries and American comforts. Rushing and demanding people who are risking their life’s fighting through long days and even longer nights (without any bodily power after so long) in part, so that pampered Americans can no longer feel uncomfortable.
I get we’re paying customers who need to get what we’re paying for. But the anger, the expectation there’s been towards them (not always)…there’s just something about that picture that makes my stomach turn.
There’s disgust because I know I’m a part of it. I was raised in a country where I grew up thinking we’re entitled to the best and that I’m too important to be uncomfortable for even a minute.
I never realized how well off I was until I moved away from America and started spending time with people in countries across the world.
Had an old truck that kept breaking down. Was glad to be rid of it. Gave it to a guy from Belize and you’d have thought he was given a brand new Jag. Drove that thing sputtering 35 MPH all the way from east Texas, through Mexico and into Belize. He thought he had died and gone to heaven to have that truck.
When you spend 6 months, a year, ten years, some people, 40 years outside America, your sensibilities are no longer exclusively American, but now third-world.
As a result of those frigid Chinese winters and sweltering summers, often without heat and A/C… Spending an entire year brushing your teeth with bottled water and bathing in front of the sink with a washcloth…knowing in the back of your mind at every single church gathering that at any moment, those doors could fly open and officers with machine guns could raid us and we could all be arrested or deported in the blink of an eye…
It conditions the mind to embrace the discomfort. At times, to even hope for it. When the power goes out now, you just shrug, open a window, drag the couch next to it and go to sleep with a bag of broccoli on your chest. But it took me a lifetime to find contentment.
We all don’t have to leave America though. That’s why I love things like power outages so much.
They bring us just a sample-sized taste of the third-world norm for a few days. They enlighten us to just how much more less really can be.
As I got home just minutes ago, I braced myself for another warm, uncomfortable night of waking up in a pool of sweat at 3 A.M.
As soon as the door opened, the air kicked back on.
It’s just 77 degrees and I’m freezing my butt off. And that, my friends, is the 3rd World mindset.
What do I have planned for tonight?
I’m gonna shut off the lights, pull out the porch chair and stare into the dark again.