My last post is begging for an update. When I wrote it, Sandy was an oft repeated name on news networks and media. It hadn’t yet become a reality. And as you can see from my last post, I was in (at least) partial denial about how bad things had the potential to be. We survived Irene last year, right? How different could things be this time around?
By now we all know just has different Sandy was from Irene. We all know of the destruction, the lives torn apart, the houses destroyed, the lives lost. The amazing thing is, despite the horrors that went on around us, a disaster like this brings out the best in people. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been at the receiving end of the most amazing outpouring of support and concern. I remember living through other disasters, from afar. I remember feeling terrible for the people affected, then returning to normal life. And now that this disaster is affecting my current situation in so many ways, I can’t stop thinking about that moment so often in the past when I switched gears from feel-bad-for-strangers mode to regular-life-mode. We can’t live our entire lives in gut-wrenching despair over unpleasant situations around the world, but can we change our outlook a little bit?
This morning was the fourth time in a row that I woke up to my phone alarm and looked hopefully at my electric alarm clock. I saw the black screen and immediately knew that it would be another day of this…this darkness. The temperature in my house was in the 40’s making it extra hard to get up from under my warm blanket, turn on my flashlight, and get dressed for the day.
When the power first when out, we were expecting it. Candles were lit, flashlights turned on. The fridge and freezer remained firmly closed as we dealt with the short term reality of a power outage. But then the hours turned to days and we learned about the long term realities of days without power.
I always thought that I couldn’t survive a power outage for more than a couple of hours because I’m too attached to all of my electronics. Yet as the days go by, I’m learning how unimportant those things are. With electricity gone, I miss using my laptop. But I miss going to the bathroom without a flashlight even more. Sure, I miss being able to charge my iPhone whenever I need to, but what I really miss is opening the fridge to pull out a cold bottle of water. I’m sure everyone expects me to miss my mixer and my oven, and don’t get me wrong- I do! But what I miss just as much, or maybe even more, is popping something in the microwave, flicking the switch of the electric kettle. It’s amazing, I discovered as I shined a flashlight at my feet to make sure my shoes match, just how much we rely on electricity and modern conveniences, without appreciating it. Without even thinking about it.
And as tough as this is, I’m one of the lucky ones. Once the power to my house is restored, life will mostly go back to normal. The downed trees will be removed, the gas stations will reopen, traffic lights will be back on, and I’ll stop carrying a flashlight in my pocketbook.
And so, perhaps, there is a long term lesson to take out of this. A lesson about appreciating the little things in life. Or better yet, the big things that the vast majority of us always take for granted. When you look at a picture of a New York City street that is completely flooded, how can you not learn to appreciate a dry floor beneath your feet? And when you see a picture of a tree fallen through a house, shouldn’t we feel compelled to appreciate the roof over our heads? When you hear about entire neighborhoods enveloped in blackness, isn’t that a good time to appreciate the light that appears at the flip of a switch? When you see cars lined up more than two miles to fill their tanks with gas, shouldn’t you bear that in mind when you pull up to the pump and say “fill it up”? And every time you turn on the oven, stick something in the microwave, mix something in your blender, or open your fridge, you really need to remember that these aren’t things we should take for granted, because all over the world, people make do without the conveniences we’ve taught ourselves to rely on.
And one more thing. As you see pictures of a line of utility trucks headed to a small New York town from somewhere in the heart of Texas, or when you hear about would-be marathon runners from Europe showing up to help in Hoboken NJ, when you experience the countless people who open up their hearts, homes and wallets to assist those with greater need than themselves, you should remember that the human race has unlimited potential for good. And that’s never something to take for granted.
(Power line down on my street so a neighbor parked their car there and left the flashers on to make sure people wouldn’t drive over it in the dark.)
A couple of notes:
1) I’m okay, and will definitely manage until the power is back on!
2) I typed the majority of this up on Friday, so it’s about to be five nights in the dark.
3) I prepared this entire post on my iPhone, so please excuse the photo quality and any grammar/spelling errors.
4) As soon as I have power (read: Internet) again, I’ll be back to posting some delicious recipes, so fear not!
Hope all my friends and followers in the Northeast are safe, dry and warm! -Miriam