Thursday, September 18, 2014

Powerless in Austin

The power went out. Immediately we review what parts of our lives require power. We have cell phones. I call the power company to report that we are powerless. They say they already know. I ask how many people are powerless. They say 2800. “Oh, that isn't so bad,” I think. When will it be restored, I ask, knowing that they can't possibly know the answer? “We don't know,” she said, adding, “would you like me to call you when you are restored?” “Sure I say,” and I give her my number.

I tell my wife we have a side burner on the BBQ that can boil water for coffee. “No,” she says, “let's go to Kirby Lane.” “Ok,” I say. “I'll call them and see if they have power.” I call, no answer. “How about Consuelos,” I ask, adding “but they have terrible coffee,” “How about Upper Crust?” I ask. “I could bring my own gluten free bread.” “Well, if you are going to do that we could go to the pastry place. They have better coffee. Or we could go to Magnolias.” She looks up their menu and sees that they don't serve breakfast.

“But we can't use the coffee grinder.” “I have a manual grinder,” she says. I put the water on to boil and come back into the kitchen. “Would you hold the grinder while I turn it,” she asks, “it was hitting my knuckles.” I hold the grinder and comment, “This isn't easy. Here, let me hold it and you grind. How about if I use my power drill,” I ask. “No, you might hurt the grinder.”

We finish grinding. The water is at a rolling boil and we make a great pot of coffee. I had cut up some fruit last night and quickly get it from the fridge, keeping the cold from escaping, and a piece of my gluten free pumpkin/banana bread. She starts reading her book and I go into my room and adjust the shutters so I can see. I am in a quandary whether to start my Torah study or to write something for this blog. I decide to write.

A few minutes ago I hear my printer go on. “The power is on,” I yell. She doesn't answer. Though perhaps I didn't hear her since I haven't put on my hearing aids.

The other night in Zen writing we used a poem about window washing for a prompt. I liked it because this mundane activity of washing windows was such a good metaphor for meditation.

Around three in the morning we woke to lightening and thunder that seemed to last for an hour or so. I remember thinking that I had never experienced a storm of that duration.  When nature shows her strength I'm struck how, despite our technological advances, I am still at her mercy. I am on the grid, so to speak. I can attribute storms to our thoughtless behavior or I can just say it is one of those things that just happen. In any case, it alters my habitual patterns. What I normally do in a daze no longer works. I am left to think in a new way, confronted with new problems that need fresh solutions.

And then the power turns on and I revert to being my robust and independent self (or so I believe), programmed for many years by my repetitive life patterns.

Thanks, powerless, for nudging a challenge into my lifeless body. And thanks, City or Austin Utilities, for so quickly restoring our power.

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