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Friday, September 9, 2011

Power Restored (Sept. 9, 2011)

Yesterday’s eleven-hour power failure had me thinking about time in a different way. I thought about the passing hours every time I looked at a battery-powered clock and wondered when the electricity would be restored. Most days I have too little time. The clock races. Yesterday it trudged.

I never feel I have enough time. One could consider the power failure a gift of time, but I didn’t see it that way. When I say I need more free time, I’m talking about time that I choose to use as I please, where, when and how I want to spend it. When a power failure occurs, it’s not according to your timing preference. When there’s no electricity, there’s no possibility of using your newly “free” time to catch up on emails, download and label photos you’ve been intending to get to, or do many of the things on the to do list. Even if we don’t need electricity for every human activity, we need light to do lots of our daily chores (I wasn’t in the mood to see if I could separate clean laundry by candlelight).

Haven’t I yearned for a less frantic pace? Yes! But I wanted it on my own terms. I want to option out of things, not have things optioned away from me, without my choosing! When I’m in a waiting room, I don’t consider it found time, as I sit while the clock ticks, ticks, ticks. Who considers it gifted time in the endless DMV line? When I have the option to do a million things, I never have enough time. Yet when I suddenly have unexpected time due to a power failure, I want the option to do what I want. You can have one or the other, but not both. More time or more choice. An inverse relationship. But I want it all!

We’re so lucky to have conveniences like electricity. Of course, I am among those who get so used to having it, that when it’s suddenly snatched away with no warning, I feel the loss acutely. It doesn’t feel like a convenient luxury when you’re used to using it dozens of times a day. It feels as essential as oxygen or water!

At 2:22am the power came back on. It woke me up, and I gleaned a little extra delight in the timing. The symmetry of 2-2-2 seemed symbolic of a prize, like a perfect match on a slot machine. Jackpot! And when you feel the loss of electricity, having it restored really is a prize. I’m never very excited about electricity unless I’ve sat in the dark, awaiting its return.

With the return of electricity comes the return of my own power. I can choose to turn on lights, tv, microwave, oven or anything else when I want to. Or not. I can decide how to spend my time, rather than waiting to be granted choice again. Power restored, indeed.

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