“I’ve talked more to my neighbors in the last four days than the last four years I’ve lived on the street.”
The hurricane reminds us of the fragility of our civilization.
We go from air-conditioned comfort to sleeping in the humid night air. One minute, we have anything we want to eat or drink, and the next minute, we’re hoping we have potable water.
We’re humbled as the forces of nature laugh at our digital world. We’re so advanced in technology; it’s strange to think our lives could be in danger as we sit in our homes wondering if the roof will blow off.
Our computer keys no longer bring instant information, entertainment and communication, so we look up from our screens. Fortunately, we see other people when we look up. I’ve talked more to my neighbors in the last four days than the last four years I’ve lived on the street.
Even our constant companion, the cell phone, let many of us down with erratic connections.
I looked out my window the other night and saw a quarter-moon shining between tree branches, an experience that’s been around as long as people and the moon. How many songs and poems has it inspired? I probably would have missed this sight if the computer had been up and running.
We opened the doors one evening after the storm and were surprised that the air was cooler. If the air conditioning had been running, I likely would have missed this refreshing breeze.
The storm takes us back to an earlier time. The hero of the hurricane was the radio, an invention that changed the world more than 100 years ago. During the storm, people huddled around their radios, eager for any kind of information. They were not scanning their individual cell phones, but rather sharing a broadcast like families years ago.
I paid a visit to the past by playing scrabble with an actual board, instead of a computer, laboriously lifting the wooden tiles as they did in the primitive days of yore. But there was a certain satisfaction in laying each tile down to spell a high-counting word. And it was more of a personal, as the competitor was sitting across the board, rather than staring at a computer screen in another town or even state.
But when the power is restored, it’s pure excitement. We’re sitting in a room half-lit by a lantern, when the power blinks on with a joyous light. The refrigerator starts its familiar, comforting hum. Cool, comfortable air starts to filter into the room. The TV and computer come to life with bright images.
It’s like Christmas and a birthday combined.
A visit to the past is nice, and thought-provoking, but the present is irresistible.