Lessons the blackout taught us

Here in San Diego yesterday, we were affected by the large power outage which made the national news. Not to minimize the negative effects of this situation in any way, but I wanted to talk instead about the wave of positivity I noticed during this event and in its aftermath. People came out onto their porches and front lawns to converse with other neighbors. They talked about how fun it was to leave their TVs and computers behind and make connections with the people who live around them. Restaurants started giving away free ice cream. Everyone broke out the barbecue, and spontaneous block parties started up. People shared food, crank radios, ice, and other supplies, while even children and dogs were shared, looked after by whoever was closest. Fireworks were set off. People played the guitar and sang for their neighbors. Some enthusiastic young people danced down the center of our street after dark with their glowing hula hoops and poi and gave us a show. In short, it was the most fun anyone ever had during a disaster.

People talk about “unplugging” all the time, but yesterday we were “unplugged”. We had no choice but to kick back and enjoy each other’s company and the simple things in life: food, the moon, funny stories. The power’s back on now, and everyone is speaking nostalgically of the “blackout block party”. I hope we don’t forget the lessons we learned last night. I hope we go outside more and spend time with our neighbors. I hope we go running sometimes after work, read instead of messing around on the internet, and go to bed early. And I hope some of us actually put together a disaster readiness kit and a disaster plan. That would be good, too.

In honor of this lingering post-blackout sense of camaraderie, I leave you with the following reading from my class today:

“What if our religion was each other
If our practice was our life
If prayer, our words
What if the temple was the Earth
If forests were our church
If holy water, the rivers, lakes, and ocean
What if meditation was our relationships
If the teacher was life
If wisdom was self-knowledge
If love was the center of our being.”

(~ Ganga White)

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Compassion

Quote

“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.”
Pema Chodron

Hope

Quote

The way that we see things today does not have to be the way we saw them yesterday. That is because the situations, our relationships to them, and we ourselves have changed in the interim. This notion of constant change suggests that we do not have to be discouraged.
(T.K.V. Desikachar)