A powerful windstorm swept through our area early yesterday morning, knocking out a couple of huge pine trees that took power lines down with them. At the end of the day, when I wrote this piece in longhand in my journal, we were still sitting in the dark, except for one light in the kitchen that was hooked up to our generator.
Ah, the generator. If it weren’t for that, I could compare our situation with the citizens of Baghdad and other benighted places where power may be available for only a few hours a day. Even with just our little generator, we have ample power – the furnace heats, the refrigerator cools, the garage door opens. I’m increasingly aware that we have so much more than we need. I’m grateful, and a little abashed. I’m far more conscious today of the power drawn to heat the water for my tea, and I’m grateful for the clear, pure water from the tap and for the twelve kinds of tea I have to choose from. I am blessed with abundance.
The generator also keeps me from comparing our situation with Thoreau’s Walden experience, the discussion of which took up much of our last Wellspring meeting. Without the generator, I would have pure darkness and silence and solitude. I would be thrown back on my own resources, my own ability to connect with God and find the divine in everything around me. Unlike Thoreau, we didn’t choose this situation – it was thrust on us, and on our neighbors (all of whose generators are cranking away noisily, just like ours). Thoreau chose to go to the woods to find the meaning in his life, but he wasn’t entirely solitary. Along with contemplation, he and other Transcendentalists believed in conversation and writing and walking and reading as forms of spiritual practice. As do I. This day has been a way of awakening.
Thank you, Henry David, for making me more aware of the complexities and ironies of my privileged existence. This day without RG&E power – but with the generator – has given me insight into the abundance of my life and also into what sets me to fretting and what gives me joy. I am grateful for my Wellspring group and their intense appreciation of the discussion on Transcendentalism. And I am grateful for heat and light and for love in my life. May we all find whatever it is that we need to generate compassion and insight in our lives.