Our electricity went out the other day. I was just in the door after walking with my sister, it was midterm, clients were finished for the week and Friday night means pizza night in our house – I was feeling good.
I popped the immersion on for a bath, flicked the kettle on for a pre-bath cuppa (questionable move) and then boom – total darkness. Well, in reality it was just slightly dimmed light (Mark keeps correcting this part of the story). It felt like darkness to me.
Our electricity was wiped and for the next three hours, neither my semi-helpful neighbour, nor ESB nor Electric Ireland could find the problem. The hours dragged by as I sat on phone call after phone call, my battery dwindling along with my hope and any last hint of a good mood. Those three hours drained me of every resource I had. I descended into panic, cried to the poor Electric Ireland lady, who whispered words of support throughout our 45 minute call, I’m not sure if this made things better or worse. The minutes ticked towards 6pm, and the ESB lady strongly recommended getting it sorted before the weekend, because of the many days without power that would mean, which was exactly what I needed to hear as I erupted into tears once more.
My trusty Dad, a literal DIY superhero, figured it out in a jiffy and had us back online via a friendly electrician, who I had to fight every urge not to hug when, within 3 minutes, he brought light into my apartment, and with that into my very soul..
I should say that Mark, my regular DIY superhero, was out on business, but sent his support in every way he could. I should also say that he spent the entire evening and following week slagging me and encouraging others to join in.
I completely over-reacted. I know this now. Heat, light and internet are basic but they are luxuries, I know it in my head. I am aware that I am among the richest in the world, and have no idea of the extent of what that means. I also know it was three hours on a Friday afternoon at the start of Spring, which in reality only saw me feeling slightly chilly, and wondering would my phone die before I was rescued from my dark pit of despair.
I just can’t believe how quickly it knocked me when they were gone. It got me thinking of how many things need to be working together in order to keep me going. How many things make up the fabric of my ‘normal’ that I never question and almost never remember to be thankful for, of what exactly the things are that keep me well and feeling ‘safe’. Perhaps they are attachments. I’m not sure what to do about it, or if it is even possible not to be attached to a basic need. It really was a tiny, momentary blip in my week, and I’m not going to pretend it was anything more.
But for the week following, it helps me to check in on my assumptions – about what others rely on, or what they find as their safety net. It gets me thinking about comforts and security, and how they might vary for different people.
During work, when I’m in front of another person hearing their story, I’m a little more curious as to what it has felt like for them to experience the ground beneath them shaking, and what was there for them to cling on to for support.
I have a faith, so I can pray in the face of the unexpected but what if prayer isn’t part of my life? What if there is a different frame of reference for crisis (or minor upset), or none at all?
The week is spent thinking about what is in my hand (thanks to my Moses-crazed husband – if he hasn’t told you about his Masters, perhaps you are even newer to Ignite than us) and also about where I am ‘planted’. I am resourced in different ways than my neighbours are, than my clients are, than my husband, friends and sisters are. I have particular gifts and strengths, and also particular attachments and hurts which dictate what things give me life and what sends me on a wobble.
I don’t have a formed thought on this really, but during the week I ask God for specific things when I pray, and see some answers. I feel better on days when I notice the beauty around me and give it my full attention, leading me to feel grateful to be part of this creation and to know that my little life means something regardless of whether I strive or not, or whether I am enjoying it that day, or not. Strengthened by those things, I wonder about what the people nearest to me have to strengthen them. So then, when I see my neighbours in our building I remember to talk to them and try to make them laugh, to pray for them when they walk out our front door and back in again at night. I try to remember I am different to Mark and that he needs different things, like responses to his endless jokes (or ‘bids for connection’, as I call them, I’m sure he is so grateful to have a therapist wife), or to be left alone sometimes. I also have particular things that anger me, or make me cry (not just electricity-related), and these tell me of the gap I am here to fill, where I can stand and reach out a hand to make a difference.
I keep mulling over these things and really, I’m just extra delighted that my lights turn on and my kettle works.