“Expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed” was the most solid piece of advice my dad ever gave me. I find my dad’s words of wisdom oddly comforting in the most dire of situations, including the panic felt when dealing with named storms.
With Hurricane Isaac whipping through town, there was nary a household saved from the massive power outages. And while we were charging our phones in the car, checking our Twitter feeds, and complaining about Entergy not doing it’s job, I have to admit I chuckled a bit as to how spoiled we’ve become.
In the July 2010 issue of National Geographic, Joel Achenbach explores how reliant we are on “the grid”.
“Juice from the grid now penetrates every corner of our lives, and we pay no more attention to it than to the oxygen in the air. Until something goes wrong, that is, and we’re suddenly in the dark, fumbling for flashlights and candles, worrying about the frozen food in what used to be called (in pre-grid days) the icebox. Or until the batteries run dry in our laptops or smart phones, and we find ourselves scouring the dusty corners of airports for an outlet, desperate for the magical power of electrons.”
No matter where you place the blame, last week was a firm reminder of how fragile our modern lifestyle is. Sitting in the car charging the phone, reading by candlelight, or making multiple grocery store runs to find a bag of ice was an annoyance, but it was also an inconvenient life lesson in disguise. I don’t consider living without electricity, at least for a little while, to be a bad thing. I like to think of it as a game, like getting back to basics and seeing how little I can live on. As an avid camper, I need to have a Walt Whitman moment to feel centered and in touch with the world from time to time. We take so many things for granted. Our smart phones power our lives, frozen food satiates our appetite, and lightbulbs enable us to stay up far past bedtime. Living in such a tech-centric world, I sometimes worry if any of us could survive if it weren’t for the appliances and gadgets that we rely on so much.
Of course all that humidity soaked transcendentalism didn’t stop my husband and I from taking our neighbors up on the offer of reveling in their generator powered A/C and cold beers. I just appreciated the magic of flipping a switch that much more when I got there.
Christy Lorio, a native New Orleanian, writes on fashion at slowsouthernstyle.com and is also a freelance writer whose work has been featured online and in print magazines both locally and nationally.