PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I humbly apologize for the interruption to our normal programming. We will return to our normal post flow tomorrow.
Today, a pause and reflection on silence.
This morning as I laid in bed, barely awake, I listened as the tinny whir of the ceiling fan became mute. The blades slowed their cyclical dance until they came to a graceful stop. I clicked the lamp at my bedside to confirm what I already knew: the electricity was off. Then the second thought dawned: I don't know for how long. So much for my plans, I thought, glancing at the time before rolling out of bed.
Having grown up in a rural community, I immediately started going through the checklist. Open the blinds to let in natural light; keep the refrigerator closed, but get in and out quickly if you need something; and remember, don't flush the toilet. This last one comes from living on well water. We had an electric pump, so if you flushed there would be no refilling of the toilet bowl. Even though I've lived in the city for 5 years now, I still forget that rule can be ignored.
Practical list aside, I began to take stock of how my morning was going to pan out. No internet, obviously. You need a plugged in router for that, but I could surprisingly open applications if I needed a false sense of connectivity. I didn't find that fulfilling, so I set the device aside and grabbed a neglected book off a stack. Time to catch up.
But then I stopped in my tracks. What is always paired with a good book? A big cup of some hot, steamy beverage, usually caffeinated and comforting. No coffee maker, no electric water kettle and a rusty, dusty water kettle meant no pairing, no caffeine. I cringed. I was intently aware of how heavy my eyes felt, the sand in the corners gritty, my body sluggish and unmotivated. I began to feel the stir of panic.
No internet was one thing, but no easy access to caffeine? I think I discovered the way America will come to ruin, in that moment. Sleep deprived, decaffeinated people would suddenly become aware of everything, distraction and ease free. Cue the hysteria!
All the inconveniences aside, the silence gave me a gift: a respite from a to-do list of demands.
I had planned to wake up, down some coffee and type up a post I had drafted the night before. Then, I would get to work on household chores. Without the advance of electricity, many of those plans were laid to waste leaving me with the freedom to enjoy myself, by myself. Surprisingly, I wasn't intimidated by the prospect.
Too often, silence is a heavy weight of expectation. The voices of others become loud and demand I get to work, look at this post, read this book, do, do, DO! But without the immediate gratification of connectivity--something I often feel as a need rather than a privilege-- I found beauty in the present. I was able to slow down and embrace myself. What did I need? What did I want? I could finally hear my inner thoughts and they weren't crucifying me for my lack or my laziness. They were at peace, quiet, listening.
It wasn't until I heard the familiar buzz of the refrigerator two hours later, that those voices, like gnats, began to speak up and nag at my mind, pulling me away from my journal, my creativity. I felt disappointed. The reprieve had been revoked and I was being pulled back to the world of distraction. No matter my resistance, I knew the inevitable: The siren call would win.
And it did, but not without a change.
For so many years, being alone in the silence has intimidated me. I haven't been too kind on myself. My husband says I don't know how to rest. While I think he is right, I think the bigger issue is that I haven't known how to love myself. Taking moments of self care, saying no, or giving yourself space... these are the things a person who loves and accepts herself/himself does. I'm only just beginning.
Tomorrow, we resume our regular post flow. Join me as I go into how rejection from our past can affect our present and impact our future.