Saturday, June 5, 2010

Power Failure

I keep a flashlight on the shelf and candles in the drawer just in case.  Should there be a power failure, I am armed with bottled water, battery-operated alarm clocks, and matches. So, if left with no electricity, I could still go about my day.  A day without electricity… No emails or text messages, no computers to play music on or breaking news alerts beeping from my cell phone.  It wouldn’t be so bad, this slice of simplicity nudging me to grant myself gadget-free hours. But after a day, I'm guessing I’d be ready to reconnect with chuckles shared through phone wires and the ability to match my mood to my favorite songs.  I have managed to refrain from forming a love affair with my blackberry, keeping it in my pocket when with friends and reminding myself that my phone is for my convenience rather than for being perpetually on-call. Still, I am fond of the cell phone. Plus, I’d miss being able to see more than six inches from my nose. And the breeze of the fans.  And the ability to keep my ice cream from melting.  And my morning coffee.  Ok, I’d rather keep my electricity.

I depend on power, automatically flipping the light switch when I walk in the door.  So why do I fumble through hallways and trip over old rules, choosing to ignore the lamps in favor of living in darkness? We are all powerful. We get to claim our own lives, choose which road to turn down, elect ourselves as Monarchs guided by our inner sparks.  We are powerful beings, and yet, it’s not enough to know where the outlets are located. We actually have to raise our fist in triumph and stake out our lands; we have to plug in the cord to ignite our personal flame.

Rationally, I know that I am an adult; able to define what I believe is a good life versus simply adopting the nearest perspective. I realize that no one is subverting my personal power without my knowledge. Instead, I hand it over at the whisper of a request.  I stay powerless by choice, continuing to stub my toes on past baggage and bruising my knees on old wounds.  When faced with a fork in the road, I wait for the majority vote before turning.  I jockey for your approval and hers and his, trying to maneuver my life to avoid conflict, disappointment, anger, and consequences.

 I let my electricity bill gather dust, convincing myself that I am happier this way, that I like having no power, that power is overrated.  I maintain that it’s better to please you, easier to live by your rules than deal with the potential fallout from living by my own.  I revert to a childish mindset and forget that today I am 30, and therefore juvenile thinking has long since expired. I attempt to reclaim my power, entering the world armed with flashlights and pep talks, maps of electrical outlets stuffed in my pockets.  I walk confidently until I glimpse the first cloud of anger, dropping my supplies as I race back to well-trodden people pleasing lined with the safety of approval. I lose my bearings; forget where the power outlets are and how to operate the light switches.

I have become so accustomed to traveling in the dark that the light hurts my eyes, casting blurry dreams and hopes tinged with a glare. 

But during these summer days where the sunlight lasts into the night, I start to remember.  I start to remember that shutting off my electricity is still exercising power, just in a detrimental way. I memorize locations of outlets, and practice changing light bulbs.  I buy a nightlight, casting ripples of empowerment, content to start small in my quest to regain my throne.  I note the moments I still blow out my flame, and take the opportunity to explore my lingering fears, strong values, and distinctive worldview. My problem isn’t that others are stealing my power, but that I leave it sitting on the curb, free to any takers.

I make sure I pay my electricity bill on time, and I stock up on light bulbs and batteries. I keep my apartment well lit.  Why don’t I do the same for my life? Benjamin Franklin already discovered electricity.  There’s no longer an excuse for tripping over childish fears in the dark. 

It’s time to blast the music of individuality, illuminate moments with intention, and dust off the forceful sockets.  We are all powerful.  We are all equipped with adapters and halogen bulbs.  So will I remember to walk with purpose, propelled by inner strength along bright hallways? Or will I choose to ignore the fuse box and settle for a powerless life?

I'm already familiar with darkness.  It’s time to be empowered.  Time to get acquainted with the light. 

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