OF TERRORISTS...AND TREES
There was no warning. Suddenly the lights went out in the bedroom of our house in Connecticut where I'd just finished taking a short nap with our Golden Retriever, Willa. Then there was a funny "poof," like a tiny explosion on the television screen which wasn't even on at the time. I called downstairs and asked Jim if he could replace a fuse or something to fix whatever was broken. Is was late Sunday afternoon and I wanted to take a shower and needed the dryer to dry my hair...(I mean, what's important here?)
"It's not a fuse," he said. "Everything in the house is out. I'll take a walk down the road to see what's going on.".
Of course, given the time of year, the house turned almost totally dark within minutes. Luckily, I have a candle fetish so I lighted a bunch of lanterns and votive candles and spread them around. But still, dark is dark... Willa gave a little whimper. "It's okay," I said, "the lights will probably come back on in a minute."
But they didn't. Jim came back and said that everybody up and down the street had lost power. And while he’d been standing in our driveway casing the situation, a woman had stopped her car and asked if our house phones were working. They weren’t. Then she told him that her father was quite ill and was in the the medical center a few miles down the road and that it had completely lost power, too. Understandably, she was pretty "worked up.” But then she laid on Jim the big one: “This,” she said, “is undoubtedly the work of terrorists." Jim tried to comfort her by saying that although it was true that there hadn't been heavy rain, wind or lightening (the usual power-killers) a tree falling through electrical wires somewhere was the more likely culprit. The woman would have none of Jim's benign interpretation and drove off. For her it was not "what" caused the power outage, but "who" caused it...
It turned out that nearly 9,000 homes in northwestern Connecticut were without power, Internet, cell phone service or radio for over five hours. Was it inconvenient? You bet. But it was also scary. Interestingly, this outage was not nearly as long as those experienced in the area in the last couple of years, but its timing - as the federal government shut down in the midst of a budget crisis - led to a kind of paranoia for some people. We got in the car and drove toward another town that we’d heard wasn't affected, hoping to get some dinner (since we couldn't cook our own) and were struck by the fact that the traffic lights at two main intersections were out - they didn’t even go to the blinking "fail safe" mode. And there was an ominous silence...almost as if people were waiting for some other "evil shoe" to drop... (When we walked into our dark house after dinner, even Willa was acting funny...)
That's the thing about "terrorism" - imagined or real. Inflicted or self-imposed. We lose our trust in the ultimate good in people...and in life itself. And we replace it with suspicion. Suspicion breeds fear. And fear saps our energy, curbs our enthusiasm and makes us play small...just when the world needs us to show up big. Let's be vigilant about the interpretations we place on the stuff that happens. Let's not leap to the worst case scenario and make ourselves miserable - or angry - or "act funny” - before we even know the facts. No, losing trust is out of the question. Plus it's no fun. Let’s not do it.
Oh, by the way, it turned out to be a big ol' tree that fell in the forest and tore down power lines...that was all. Just a tree..
Gail Blanke’s Lifedesigns©2013 All Rights Reserved
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