As I write these words, I am the grateful recipient of something I often take for granted and of which many others in my area are still experiencing the absence…electrical power. A freak Halloween weekend snowstorm here on the East Coast sent 4-6″ of the heavy, wet stuff cascading down. Lovely at first as it wafted from steel gray skies and then damaging to trees and electrical wires…my poor shrubs that a few days ago, stood tall and erect are now bent and bowed toward the ground. Hoping that with an expected thaw, they will bounce back, resilient, like their caretaker has learned to be. For 12 hours or so, my son and I sat in the dark, with candles, flashlights, bundled in blankets, putting the perishables out on the back deck, to chill there. Since the power was out, I wasn’t able to do what I had intended…writing a few articles. I was able to go the gym in the morning to do my regular ‘playout’. Such a fun juxtaposition of being in the warmth of Planet Fitness while watching the snowfall through steamy windows. Once I returned home, after showering by candle light..kinda like being in a cave, I dove for the flannel sheet and quilt comfort of my bed, surrounded by books to read that were sent to me for review (one was run yesterday called What Is Death? by Lexie Brockway Potamkin and another: Restoring Life’s Missing Pieces by Caren Goldman, will run later this week). In between, I lounged leisurely, ate yogurt and graham crackers and napped. Such an unusual routine for this ‘functionally manic’, busy bee, accustomed to being on the go-go-go. There was one challenge even greater than the absense of electrical power and that was the feeling of powerlessness that was expressed quite vociferously by my son who was angry that on his day off from work, he was bored since his usual routine of tv and video games, was interrupted by the outage. It felt like I was sharing the cave with a grizzly bear.
I reminded him numerous times (while acknowledging his frustration), that carrying on wouldn’t turn the power on any faster, that perhaps surrendering to what is, would serve him (and certainly his mother who was actually relishing her mini-vacay) better to relax and find other ways to occupy his time. Cleaning his room seemed a good option to me..he wasn’t buyin’ it. I attempted to have him focus on what was positive about the situation…we had plenty of food, blankets, ways of lighting the house, we were healthy, our cars had plenty of gas, the newly repaired roof was holding up, and I assured him that the power would be on soon. “You’re such an optimist, Mom.” he said. “And the problem with that is…?” realizing that his statement wasn’t really a compliment. He was certain that our electric company wasn’t doing anything to fix the problem and (perhaps secretly) he believed that it was all designed to torment him. I redirected and deflected as best I could, setting boundaries that in the sanctuary of my room, conversation would not focus on what was wrong with this situation. He settled down for a bit.
Blessedly, the power went back on ever so briefly around 5 that allowed us to cook dinner and heat water for tea. I thanked PECO ( our energy company) out loud for restoring our power and my he countered with…”Watch, it won’t last.” Less than 20 minutes later, the lights flickered and diminished. “Hah! Told you!”, came from my learned pessimist son. “Thank you, PECO,” he taunted.
Sighing, I went back to my books and blankies, reading by flashlight as the twilight approached. Long about 11, everything came back on and stayed on. My son returned to his room and silence reigned. It occurred to me that while he immersed in fuss and fret mode out loud, I carried it in my mind, outwardly appearing quite zen. It has been my default mode for so long that it is automatic. I am one of those folks who can handle a crisis with a sense of calmness and efficiency. I learned from a master…my mother who had weathered many a storm, with her ‘strong shoulders’ as she called them, who could step up and be counted on. The truth is, in times of turmoil, I want to be surrounded by people like that who neither freeze nor complain, who do what needs to be done. Judgemental? Perhaps. In my case, learned optimism rocks! Regardless of the circumstances that surround me, including a grumpy grizzly bear in my midst, I know that my own peace of mind can only be disturbed by my thoughts about it all. In that way, I am always Higher Powered…charge!
From one of my favorite movies for kids of all ages…. The Snowman (Walking in the Air) www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubeVUnGQOIk