As Irene swept by, this area experienced high winds that knocked out power for hours or days. My electricity was off for a day and a half. I always feel like a kid camping out when that happens--cooking and getting ready for bed by lantern light, no electronic entertainment--just silence and crickets. When the power came back on, I felt a stronger than usual pang of disappointment. I decided to pay attention to that. What did I miss, now that the power was back on? I wasn't really sorry to have the microwave and the washing machine back on line. What I missed most was the silence. I realized that I had fallen into the habit of switching on the radio for whatever I was doing--cooking, washing dishes, taking a bath, and so on. Why did I need constant chatter in the background? What was I avoiding? So I decided to leave the radio off. (I don't have TV.) What happened moved me so deeply I wanted to share it. In the peace of silence, I could listen to my own thoughts. I could notice things, draw connections, appreciate surprises. I could step outside of time and be in the now--instead of always having my attention drawn to whatever was happening on the radio. I rediscovered how much I enjoy my own company. I found new energy for writing and other projects. I'm not missing much by unplugging. How much of what's on the nightly news do you REALLY need to hear? It's funny that it took a hurricane to wake me up. Funny that a loss of power helped me rediscover my own power.
I am a writer for children and a former editor for Highlights and Highlights High Five. I live in a little farmhouse almost 150 years old in an ancient apple orchard in northeastern Pennsylvania, two miles from the Delaware River. The view from my porch is rolling fields, pine-covered hills, and deer and turkey. Here is where I sit and write when summer comes, watch the hummingbirds and chipmunks, and listen to the rain.