Saturday, September 3, 2011

No Power, No Problem

Just like many of you, I was affected by that horrible hag Irene last weekend. The wind and rains knocked out our power for several days and caused many of our local roads to be unpassable.

I wish I could tell you that I used the opportunity to find peace and serenity in my newfound unplugged world. I would love to say that my family and I told stories by candlelight and heated our meals on a cozy woodstove. How nice it would have been to practice yoga outside on the patio while the rest of the world went on as usual. It would be great to tell you that I spent the dark nights in a deep, restful sleep and rose early in the morning ready to greet a day with nothing to do.

But none of that happened.

Truth is, I panicked.

We lost power during the storm; right in the middle of a riveting TORNADO WARNING on the Weather Channel. Just after the heart-stopping beep, beep, beep sounded, and the big red ticker flashed at the bottom of my screen, everything went dark.

I had no idea what to do. Should I wake my kids up and hide in the basement? Should I power up the portable radio? Should I try to surf the web on my not-so-smart smartphone? Should I go to sleep and hope we don’t wind up in Oz the next day?

I felt so isolated. So confused. So POWERLESS.

And that got me thinking…

Before people had all these “luxuries,” like electricity and plumbing and telephones and Whole Foods, how did they survive? They couldn’t rely on the Weather Channel to tell them a storm was brewing; they had to … *gasp*… look outside. They didn’t rely on a GPS to get them to where they wanted to go; they had to explore, or maybe even… *gasp*… use common sense. They wouldn’t be able to rely on the USDA or Jenny Craig or count points to figure out what to eat. They would… *gasp*… eat what was available, and… *gasp* *gasp*… eat when they were hungry and stop when they were full.

All of this is a completely foreign concept to most of us today. Look, my plugged-in peeps, I’m not judging here. I was the crazed woman sitting in the car charging my phone in the middle of the night “just in case” I needed it to call 911 if the flood waters rose up to my bedroom. It was me running around the house checking the batteries on the carbon monoxide detectors because there could be a gas leak in the house and what if the battery back-up system didn’t work? And although I didn’t wake my peacefully naive sleeping children to hole up in the basement, I came damn close.

But hindsight is so enlightening, isn’t it? I can look back on these things now and see the ridiculousness of my ways. Now, with the comforting glow of my computer in front of me and the soothing hum of my refrigerator in the background, I know what I should have done instead.

I should have relied on my gut instincts. You know what they are, right? We all have them, but we rarely use them.

Have you ever had a really strong feeling about something? Maybe you felt an oddly familiar fondness when you first met the person you would eventually marry. You couldn’t explain it at the time, but you just knew. Or, maybe you met someone who seemed perfectly harmless on paper, but your gut told you to run away as fast as you can.

Often, our gut knows things before we do.

There have been times when I haven’t listened to my gut, and I’ve always regretted it. I remember an occasion where I hired somebody because they had all the right qualifications for the job. Funny thing was, every time I was with that person, my stomach tightened, my muscles tensed, and I literally felt a wall go up around me. But since there was no logical explanation for my feelings, I ignored them. Not long after, my brain realized what my gut already knew, and we parted ways.

So if I had listened to my gut last weekend, instead of the anxiety that surrounded the feeling of uncertainty and helplessness, I would have fared much better. Had I relaxed and looked within, I would have found that tranquility that I couldn't find in the eye of the storm. Maybe we would have told stories by candlelight (although those stories probably would have been tinged with my kids complaining about how much they miss the computer), maybe we would have heated our meals on a cozy wood stove (except for the fact that we don’t have one), and maybe we would have practiced yoga on the patio (except that the patio was under water). Oh well. Nothing’s perfect… but I bet we could have made it a happier experience than it was.

The point is, one of the reasons for the dip in our zip is that we don’t trust ourselves as much as we should. We rely more on our external rules than we do on our internal tools.

The next time you’re in a sticky situation, turn off the tv, back away from the Blackberry, and get off of Google. Instead, use your inner compass as a guide. You just might find that, plugged in or not, your intuition is your best technician.