A few days ago, the lights went out around me.
I wasn’t the only one affected. Around 100,000 homes and businesses were plunged into darkness.
The power outage lasted for many hours. This is very unusual where I live.
When I went outside, I noticed just how dark it was without any electricity. It’s never this dark here, in the Metro Area surrounding the powerful capital of the US.
It took a while for the details to emerge.
Turns out, a tiny private plane carrying two passengers had crashed into a power line. Miraculously, they were alive and awaiting rescue.
After gathering some tea lights for later use, we all decided to nap for a while.
When I got up, it was still dark. But slightly less so. All the wonderful people who spent their Sunday night working to solve this issue had succeeded in getting power restored in some places, those that are the most important to infrastructure.
We weren’t part of it.
After a few hours without electricity, we started to get concerned. The heat was out and even though it was warm for November, winter was coming…
We also couldn’t easily leave since our car was stuck behind the electric garage door.
I ate some cold cereal for dinner and decided to pass the time by going on a walk.
Outside, I had the most unusual of experiences: when I turned to the left, all I could see was deep, deep darkness. When I turned to the right, familiar warm lights gave me reassurance.
I was also happy to see that one neighbor whose elderly parent I was concerned about had already gotten his power back.
Eventually, pretty close to midnight, the lights went on for us with a bang, illuminating our entire living room. The heat powered up.
Having power restored after an outage is always such a beautiful moment. Suddenly, it’s so easy to feel gratitude for the things we usually take for granted.
I’m also grateful for two lessons I learned from all this. Let’s start with the first. When I walked around outside, I realized an important truth:
Your light benefits others. When you are doing well, it is a service to others.
Take, for instance, the neighbor I just mentioned. Them having electricity meant I could ask them for help, if necessary. It was relieving to know that we could get hot water or warm ourselves up at their place, if the situation persisted.
And the only reason I had that reassurance is because some people got power back before I did. This wasn’t a cause for jealousy but for relief.
You cannot give what you do not have.
And the second lesson I learned? Planes and power lines don’t mix very well!
This was first published on my blog here.