End of the World?

river high water

Two nights ago there was a rainstorm and the power went out.

Bam. Not just the lights, but the background hum of little motors suddenly went silent.

How inconvenient. I was in the middle of a coding project. Surely this was just for a few minutes.

I checked the Duke Power website. The estimated restore time was 11:30pm.

It was 6pm and still light enough to read a book on the porch.

Looking out on the dark neighborhood in the drizzling rain the internet felt remote, nearly imaginary.

What if the power never came back on? Would anyone care about my blog? Or the latest WordPress news? Or the millions of messages that flash around the world at the speed of light?

If the power never came back on, would we even remember the internet? Or computers, or code? Would it all sound so improbable to the future that if would be considered a myth? ... Long ago people thought they could see moving pictures and get messages from magic boxes...

The book I was reading was "The Healing Wisdom of Africa" by Malidoma Some. I learned that when a disaster happens in his West African culture, there is an assumption that something is out of balance and needs to be addressed.

Of course, this was not really a disaster, and what was probably out of balance was the tree that fell on the power line.

But the event got me to stop and think about our electrified support system. How I simply accept it the way my cats accept the can opener - totally dependent on it, but mostly clueless about where it came from and how it works.

As it happened, the power didn't come back on until the next morning. I woke to complete darkness and watched the sky grow pale over the trees in the east. The river was still whooshing, the birds started chatting and I noticed that I couldn't even heat water for a cup of coffee. My collection of electrical things sat about useless. Even getting the car out would be an effort without the power to the garage door.

Then, I realized there was a coffee shop nearby and I could walk there. My feet still had power!

Just about that time, BAM - the lights came on.

I turned on the coffee pot - what a luxury! And I went for a walk anyway.

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