We’ve had several power outages in the neighborhood over the past several weeks. One was due to heavy snow and ice, but the other two have been the result of high winds.
It’s been interesting, because the lights flicker quite a bit before they go out. Last Tuesday, I was sitting in the neighborhood café when this happened. I exclaimed, “Disco coffee shop!” and the other patrons laughed at the weird, strobe-light effect. This morning, it was the kitchen clock whose display was dancing just before everything went dark.
It’s inconvenient to be without power, certainly, and particularly when I’ve got a huge deadline in a few days and need to keep my head down and my focus on transcribing, researching, writing, and editing. It’s also problematic when you get hungry.
However, I am enchanted by the sudden quiet of a power outage. All the background noises that we’ve learned to tune out—the furnace blower, the hum of the refrigerator, computer fans—fall immediately silent, and we are caught in the space between breaths. The wind still blows, rattling tree limbs and disturbing the chimes just outside my office window, but the house is quiet.
I bring out candles to at least partially illuminate the notebooks I am hunching over. I dig out the old tea kettle and put a match to the gas stove instead of using the microwave to heat water for tea. I pull on more layers of fleece and wool against the dropping indoor temperature. I even get a fair amount of work done.
But the silence has a strong pull, a soundless siren’s cry. I am bidden to be still. To let the quiet sink into me and settle over my bones and synapses. To breathe. To reflect.
Yes, this massive article is still due, with another massive deadline looming just a few days later. I need to do research and can’t get online. It’s getting progressively colder in the house. I really should go pick up a lunch somewhere and then work from the library until power is restored to the neighborhood. I really should.
But for a few blissful moments, I choose instead to sit and to observe, and to just be for a little while.
(And, oddly, the exact moment I decide to ride out the outage by taking a nap, the power comes back on.)