Lights Out

March 21, 2013

Last week I was in the shower and my bathroom light started flickering and then went out. It came back on a little while later, and so I figured something must have happened with the power in the neighborhood (a fairly common experience). The next morning while showering, the lights started flickering again. This time the lights went out and the shower went cold … before I managed to rinse off the soap. Burr!

Power in many countries around the world isn’t a given. There can be any number of issues with the power infrastructure. Power systems can also be much more susceptible to things like weather. For example, one night in February, we had torrential rains here in Bogota. I had visitors from the States that evening and was looking forward to having them over to see my apartment and experience a little of the way I live. Little did any of us know, they were going to get a crash course. The power went out in my entire neighborhood, and I ended up giving a tour of my apartment by candle and flash light.

In any event, when my power went out that Sunday, given how common it is for the power to go out, I assumed everyone else in my building had the same problem, that is, until I discovered the security guard watching TV at his station. Apparently, this power loss was unique to my apartment. Unfortunately, the power loss was over the weekend, which meant that I was unlikely to find someone to help me address it until Monday. Needless to say, as long as I had sunlight, I read a great deal, as I had just powered up my kindle before the power went out. In the evening, I watched a couple of movies on my laptop as I had some files stored on my hard drive, and my laptop had also just been charged.

One of the things I think most of us take for granted is electricity, except in the case of when we’re in the path of a terrible storm of some kind. Much of what we have in our homes depends on power … washing machines, furnace blowers, blenders, radios, TVs, internet routers, computers, lights, air conditioners, garbage disposals, hot water, and the list could go on.

My power loss started me thinking about all of the things that, to some extent, we take for granted … food from the grocery store, transportation (personal or public), access to people via phone, internet connections, the ability to cook with gas or electricity, access to online information, housing, access to an education, and access to healthcare, to name just a few. Then I started thinking about things that some of us might take for granted that may not be the case for others. Not all of us are safe; some of us live in fear on a daily basis. Not all of us have access to healthcare; some of us worry that something bad will happen and we won’t have access to needed medical care that could save our lives. Not all of us have a home; some of us live on streets, have been forcibly removed from our homes, or have lost our homes to military conflict, natural disasters, and/or environmental issues. Not all of us have food security; some of us wake up each day wondering from where our next meal will come. Many of us do not have access to employment, and if we do, we may not receive a living wage; some of us wonder from day to day whether we’ll be able to make enough to provide adequately for our families.

While it was a nuisance and inconvenience to be without power for much of a weekend, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing to be reminded during Lent that there are many people in this world who aren’t able to take much for granted. As we replaced and repaired the old fuses in the fuse box, I gave thanks for the blessing of electricity, and resolved to try and remember to give thanks for all of those blessings in my life that I have a tendency to take for granted.

One Response to “Lights Out”

  1. honemission Says:

    We have gotten awesome little lamps from LLBean – 4 LEDs, solar-charged with hand-crank charging also and a port for charging cell phone/kindle. We’d love to give you one – but how to get it to you?



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