Blackout! (or, A Time To Reflect)

Mystic Seaport, CT

Regular readers of this blog will know that while I write about my Georgia homeland, I actually live in New York City. So that means the past week has been a rough one. My apartment was without power from Sunday, October 28th around 8:30pm to about 4:30am on Saturday, November 3rd. That’s a long time to spend “off the grid” with no power, heat, or water. I am very lucky, though, that my home is safe. Many people cannot say that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. And my office has suffered a hard blow, too. I work at the very tip of Manhattan in a building that looks over the harbor. I look out at the Statue of Liberty every day. The building was damaged by Hurricane Sandy and that means that I, as an IT infrastructure engineer, have been extremely busy. In the business world, the work never pauses–not even for a hurricane. You can’t miss a beat. The past week has been trying and there is more to do. The weeks ahead will bring many more long hours.

During the blackout, I did spend a lot of time contemplating my ancestors. Most of them lived without electrcity their entire lives. I thought about how their homes and habits were much more tailored to deal with those circumstances. Daily schedules were dictated by daylight hours and homes were made to stay warm without electricity, just to name a couple of points. So many other details of their lives must have been different from our own. When we lose power it is more than an inconvenience, it has a way of stopping us in our tracks. To temper that reaction I tried to remember how my ancestors lived–and thrived–in a world without electricity. Contemplating that made it a little easier to get through the darkness.

So, too, my ancestors witnessed the advent of electricity. What must it have been like to see that first flicker of an electronic light bulb? There must have been a lot of distrust at first, just like we see in Downton Abbey when the Dowager Countess bemoans, “I couldn’t have electricity in the house, I wouldn’t sleep a wink. All those vapors seeping about.”

How about the first electric iron? The first waching machine? Take your pick from a long list of creature comforts. Think about your ancestors–how did these things change their lives? How did they get by without the things you now take for granted?

But as different as the circumstances of our ancestors lives are–that is without a doubt–the core thread of our humanity remains the same. The world will always change around us. Technology and culture constantly barrel forward and our own descendants may one day wonder how we–here in the early 21st century–lived so primitively.  No matter how things evolve we remain one people, connected throughout the ages. That will always be the same.

I hope to be back next week with a normal Jordan’s Journey post. You can subscribe to this blog by RSS or email to stay up to date.

I took the above photo in Mystic Seaport, Connecticut in 2004. Though not southern in origin, the scene does evoke the rural simplicity of an earlier time not unlike how I envision my ancestors living.

Leave a Reply