I woke up drooling sort of hanging off of Jim and Susan’s couch. It took me a minute to realize that I wasn’t at home, and that this crazy power and communications outage was in fact not a dream, but still happening. I could tell that the heat was still off because the living room felt colder and my feet were freezing. December really isn’t the best time in Canada to lose your heating and electricity. I could see the condensation forming on the windows from the cold air. I stretched my arms and looked over to see Mary sitting quietly and contemplatively in the chair.
“Morning” I smiled
She looked at me and tried to crack a smile, but let’s face it… Smiling was pretty hard right now. It was going on 24 hours without heat, electricity and communications and it had to be at least minus ten outside. Smiling wasn’t exactly the first thing on the morning agenda.
“It’s pretty cold in here” I said looking over at the smoldering ashes in the fireplace from the night before.
“Yeah” said Mary “I could barely sleep last night. Did you hear those noises outside?”
“No. I think the wine knocked me out. I didn’t hear anything at all. What was it?”
“It kind of sounded like mobs of people. I heard screaming and crowds of people. I think it must have been only a couple of blocks over.”
“Wow, maybe we should go for a walk today and see what happened. I think I am gonna go home this morning and get cleaned up and changed into some fresh clothes. Hopefully the heat will come back on!”
“Yeah. I think I am ready to go home too” said Mary “This has all been very overwhelming. I think some normalcy and the familiarity of my house is exactly what I need right now. Here let me give you my phone nu-.”
We both laughed. “I’m at 342” she said. “You know where to find me.”
We had breakfast with Susan and Jim – Scrambled eggs and bacon done over their fireplace with their camping supplies. It was actually very good. I headed home nervously after breakfast and stopped on the street to notice how quiet the street was. Usually I heard buses and honking and cars driving past, there was no sound today. It was quiet like it had never been before. It made me slightly uncomfortable. The birds in the trees had stopped their incessant chirping now though. I guess what they were warning about had already happened.
The sky still looked strange with streaks of Purple hanging like curtains where fluffy White clouds used to be. I unlocked my door and looked sadly at my cat who stared at me. I knew he wanted food. He didn’t have in his mind the things that were going on in my mind. He had simple needs and simple thoughts.
I poured some food into his dish and picked up his water dish. I headed over to my sink where there were stacks of dishes from 2 days ago. “I guess I am gonna be washing these in cold water” I thought to myself. I turned on the tap to fill my cat’s water dish with water. It made some sputtering sounds; spat out a few drops of water and then stopped. I dropped to my kitchen floor and cried. I felt completely helpless and alone. My cat came up and rubbed against my leg and then went over to his water bowl. It must have been at least an hour that I laid on my kitchen floor staring up at the ceiling, letting tears fall from my eyes and my mind wander into territory that I wish it hadn’t entered.
I sat up and wiped my wet and snotty face into my sleeve and stood to my feet. The house was so quiet and uncomfortable. You never really realize how addicted to distractions you are until they are all taken away from you. The only thing I had was myself; just me and my thoughts in complete solitude.
Sitting on my couch with my cat beside me I let my mind go where I was terrified to let it go and asked myself “what if the power doesn’t come back on? What if this doesn’t get fixed?” I began thinking about who I knew in the area and what my plan should look like. I could drive to my parents house an hour away, but I wasn’t sure if I had enough gas to get there. And all of the gas pumps were down because they (like everything) were controlled by computers. Same reason my water probably stopped. It is really astonishing when you sit back and think about how we created our own system of failure. I mean why didn’t we ever think about this happening. We live in an expansive universe that we haven’t even begun to understand. Who were we to think that we were ever above nature?
“Even if this does get fixed soon” I thought, “we will have to change the way life on this planet currently operates. We need something better.”
I grabbed my car keys and ran out the door to check my gas situation in my un-fuel-efficient GMC Yukon. I had a quarter of a tank. That was pretty much what it took to get to my parents house on the nose. But since I had no way to get in touch with them, I didn’t even know if they were there. I went back into the house and tried to think about what I should do.
I needed to get out of the house for a while. I lived in a small but quaint downtown core. On a normal day there were tons of people walking around, sitting in coffee shops and shopping. Even in the winter – people liked to walk around, especially dog people.
I grabbed my coat, hat, and mitts and headed out the door to check out what was going on in my little town. There weren’t as many people on the streets as there normally were, and the businesses all seemed to be closed, except for a few that were boarding up their windows with plywood. Thieves had ransacked the hardware store. Every window was broken and boarded up with a message spray painted on the wood that said, “you should be ashamed of yourself”. It didn’t look like anyone was open today.
My stroll slowed to a halt as I neared City Hall. There were protesters outside demanding that the problems be fixed while others called for a state of emergency. But the protesters looked weary and defeated, many of them were leaving and going home. I saw a woman bundled up in a sleeping bag with her sign on the ground beside her. Her sign read “Heat and communications are basic necessities of life. Don’t deny us the right to live.” I half smiled at her while reading her sign. She stared at me blankly, void of any emotion.
The streets had a strange glow to them now from the overhanging Purplish-Pink sky. Everything looked pretty, yet dead. No lights, no cars, no life. My walk took me about ten blocks until I returned back to my home. I went inside and sat on my couch in silence, trying to bring my mind to a point of peaceful meditation. I was on the brink of a total meltdown and I could feel it bubbling up inside of me, but part of me knew that if I let that happen, I would be in an even worse situation than I was. I was here and I was alone. I had no one here with me and this was my reality. I had to decide what my next move would be and figure out a plan that worked for me. There was nobody around to bail old Jane out of this one. When things got tough I often looked to my friends, family and support network for help – and they were always there for me, but I had to think this time.
I sat in quiet meditation for about an hour and slowly opened my eyes to see my cat staring at me intently. He blinked at me approvingly. I guess he appreciated the state that I was in at that moment.
I had a plan, well… kind of.
I grabbed some large storage bins and placed them in the center of my living room. Next, I thought about food – I went through my kitchen retrieving as many non-perishables as I could, along with a few dishes, a pan, some cutlery, knives, and a can opener. I placed them all inside of one of the large storage bins. Next I rounded up kitchen towels, cloths, toilet paper and a case of water from my basement. I put these things in the storage bin as well. I forced myself to think worst-case scenario without making it seem scary or depressing. “I am alive” I thought to myself, “for that, I am thankful.” I rounded up some tools – a hammer, some nails, a couple of screwdrivers, duct tape, measuring tape, and some pliers. I knew that tools would be essential, even though my ability to use them left something to be desired. Next I rounded up some blankets, sheets, pillows and warm clothes. I placed it in the second storage bin. A few months prior a friend had introduced me to soap nuts, saying that she had stopped using laundry detergent and was now using these soap nuts instead. I hadn’t tried them yet but I had a bag of them in my basement that I thought might come in handy, so I grabbed those too.
After about an hour I had two very large storage bins full of essential food, supplies and clothing. These things, I thought – were the basic necessities of life, or as close as I could come with what I had.
I had a very big decision to make – Use the last of my gas to get to my parents house, stay put where I was, or drive a few minutes down the road to my friend Jenn’s house. My SUV was a gas guzzling pig, so any road trip I made had to be for good reason, and possibly be because I would stay where I went. Because of this, I had a hard time deciding what to do. Today was Saturday. I decided to give myself until Thursday, living off of the things in my fridge and cupboards until then. A lot of the things in the fridge had already spoiled because of the power being shut off. I wouldn’t attempt to eat the yogurt or milk, but other things – like the vegetables and fruit could probably still be eaten.
I went into my fridge and pulled out every last salvageable piece of fruit or veg that I could find and sliced them up into containers. I knew that if this “thing” as I now referred to it, was going to last more than a few days (or months) that I wouldn’t be able to get fresh food for a while, unless I planned on ransacking a grocery store… Which had probably already been done – judging by the state of downtown.
It’s weird when you’re alone with no way to communicate with anyone. A couple of times I even forgot and grabbed the phone and started dialing. I stopped myself in the midst of doing this, wondering what had prompted me to act so robotically without considering the “now” that I was experiencing. It was like I wanted to call my mom or my friend Jenn and tell them about what was happening, which was ridiculous – because it was happening to them too. And just as I couldn’t contact them, they too couldn’t contact me. I wondered what my mom and dad were doing, how they were coping with the changes. I pictured my dad panicking and my mom gathering firewood and organizing supplies. Their neighbour had a huge fire pit in their backyard, and the small community in which they lived, were likely working together to help each other out, as they often already did. Small communities are great for that sort of thing. My city was, by contrast a little snobbier. People didn’t really care who you were or what you did and you might live next door to someone for five years without ever saying hello or good morning. And that… was my dilemma.
I remembered having a conversation in 2010 with one of my meditation guides, she told me that this was going to happen. She forewarned of the global crisis that we were in – citing that it was inevitable and unchangeable but that it would be a new beginning. No amount of recycling, energy efficient bulbs, or innovative thinking could have prepared us for this. We were at nature’s mercy. The universe decided that its intergalactic weather was going to wreak havoc here on earth, and that’s what happened. We simply weren’t equipped to deal with it. Our entire economy is dependent on satellites, computers, and electricity. We now had no way to pump gas or withdraw money, thanks to this “intelligent” system we had designed for ourselves here on earth.
I remembered thinking my friend Evvie was a bit of a cynic for believing what she believed. She had a serene nature about it though. She wasn’t all doom & gloom “the world is going to end”. In fact the opposite, she was excited and almost looking forward to it, which I couldn’t quite wrap my head around – especially as I looked around me and felt helpless and alone. She used to say “Jane, it’s nothing to fear. Embrace it. Those who are connected to their higher selves will transition beautifully. Those who are disconnected will struggle.”
Somewhere along the lines in late 2011 I stopped meditating, reading and going to my drumming circles. I had spent 3 solid years being highly spiritual and infinitely creative, but I dropped all of that like a bad habit when someone dangled a fat pay cheque in front of my eyes and I got caught up in a soulless 60-hour workweek. Slowly but surely, my beliefs became murky, my spirit cloudy and my memories of what so many spiritual teachers, mentors, and friends forewarned me of – a distant speck in the history of me. Sustainable living and love of the planet came a distant second to my career and “life” online. I falsely thought that I was “connected” which was ironic now. But the truth was, I gave up real connection in favor of perceived connection. I gave up my real life connections: my drumming circle friends, my Reiki share group, my meditation group and even my old friends from school. My friends were coworkers and online friends, and none of them were anywhere They all, no doubt, sensed that my life was more focused on career and “the internet” and distanced themselves from me as well. I found myself in a constant state of stress and anxiety, and whenever I tried to reel myself in through Reiki or meditation – a little voice in the back of my brain would be doing a fine job of working against me. I couldn’t focus on my spirit because I refused to believe in it anymore. I didn’t have time to talk about the universe in all its infinite glory and my coworkers thought I was a freak when I told them that I had my Master Reiki certification. There was a distinct contrast between what I believed and what I lived, so I had to stop doing one of them… And well, the believing wasn’t paying the bills and wouldn’t change the fact that we were a consumer based society of materialistic consumption. So I simply stopped listening to my spirit and connecting with my . I stopped embracing that stuff, in favor of the here and now life of consumption, material, wealth and all that stuff that contributed to the awful state of our planet.
I sat there thinking about the way I had spent the last year living and it made me sad. I gave up the most important things, in favor of money. Money that I couldn’t even access right now and that I probably wouldn’t ever see again, unless the banks had some way of recovering their systems from intergalactic communications storms. How would our society reset from this? How would we be able to go back to the way things were? The simple answer was that it won’t be like it was before. For the first time in human life – money was not helpful right now. Money couldn’t buy me a plane ticket, some gas, groceries, or a way out of this situation.
And even if it could, I wouldn’t know who to give it to.