This week I was powerless, quite literally.
This home (basement included of course) was without power this from Monday evening to yesterday afternoon on account of hurricane Sandy. The internet was out even longer. I’m writing this because 1) I’m happy to have my Internet back and 2) The pitch black end to my October made me think of some things.
It seems like the hurricanes have followed me up the cost. Having grown up in the south I have been through too many of these things to remember and I figured that Sandy would be no different. Even as my Philadelphia-native friends were preparing for an unfamiliar (for them) bout with the storm, I brushed off the need to prepare for anything. I knew what “category 1” meant and exactly what that entailed. I also knew that the power would probably go out. I just didn’t count on it being out for days.
I was right. Sort of. We got little rain and it was windy. Some trees fell (not on houses! Whew!) and some branches broke in the night and landed in the yard. And it was dark; very, very dark for almost 3 days. And though we didn’t get the worst of the storm by any means (prayers for NJ and NYC), there was still the difficulty of having no power in the house and a lesson to be learned for me in the process.
I had been thinking the past few days about panic, not the kind to be taken lightly but the, “I’m going to die” panic. I realize some people have never had that feeling, they’re blessed. I had the misfortune of coming face to face with panic during some of my first open water dives. [Scuba diving] as fun as it is, there’s a overwhelming sense of being very close to death in the moments when the water is deep and the light fades. When I was about 15 I dove down into my first underwater cave and it got very dark very fast. I was about 60 ft. down and maybe 30 ft. inside when I lost all light and in that second I felt it. It was pure fear, the kind that makes your bones feel cold. At once I lost all sense of direction. I became very aware of my frailty and the millions of gallons of cold water pushing in on my lungs. My breath was the only sound I heard and I was completely blind. My mask began to fill with water and I thought I was done. I hung there in the void feeling not only panicked but completely alone, and powerless to stop the fear.
I thought back to the cave while I descended the stairs into the basement yesterday night. I saw the stairs going down but I underestimated the bigness of the darkness and once again I was there in the blackest dark. It had swallowed me. I thought about my encounter with panic and how I had fought against my body to keep calm in the face of nothingness. Because it wasn’t the cold, or even the dark that scared me so bad. It was the loss of direction and with that, the loss of hope. It was uncertainty.
Obviously I did make it out of that cave. I remember I had never been so relieved to see the light. I was exhausted when I finally reached the surface; but I made it.
When you learn to dive, one of the first things you learn, that is reinforced throughout your training is, “don’t panic”. Because when you’re under there, surrounded my so much water there are too many things that can go wrong. The last thing you want to do is let yourself panic. That day, I had successfully felt panic and ignored it. I got out. I thought my way out, despite what my body was screaming at me.
Since then I have to leaned to accept my own powerlessness. I was powerless to make the electricity flicker back on. I couldn’t make the darkness disappear but I had power over my attitude. Again and again that is my lesson: Jackie can ONLY control Jackie. That’s it.
I also learned (again) that thinking I know everything is a sign of pride and that would not serve me well if this (or worse) happened again, in this case preparing for the worst was a good thing that I foolishly disregarded.
“Pride goes before destruction,
and haughtiness before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18
Even so, the wonderful promise of Romans 8:28 came through! All things work together for good. We all made it though the storm safely (and so did our food)!
[EDIT]By the way! I’m in the process of redoing this site and moving some things so I apologize if it’s looks a little “undone”![/EDIT]