Monday, July 6, 1998

Freedom Just Around the Corner

Last week I learned that the power company earns its name in every sense of the word. Living without electricity at first is a mere nuisance but quickly becomes a major life shifting event. Those responsible for providing the power that runs the appliances now necessary to get through the day to day routine are also the ones that get to decide the best way to restore power after an emergency. Northern States Power tells their customers who lose power that their crews are assigned first to areas where they can restore electricity to the most homes quickly.

Yet it is awfully frustrating to be waiting patiently in your darkened house and look across the street to see your neighbors have power a full day before you do. It is doubly frustrating because you aren't quite sure when your power will return, you only know exactly when your neighbor's did. You don't want to call to complain because NSP is ultimately the power company and you don't want to end up last on their list of customers to assist.

At first it is kind of quaint to read by candlelight, and to listen to the silence normally occupied by the sound of either the TV or the stereo. But in a busy schedule the loss of the nighttime hours means less and less gets done. Being in bed by nine sounds like nirvana to a tired and weary soul but for this fella it merely meant another couple of hours of staring up at the dark ceiling. And until you see it you can't believe how dark it actually can get.

So you would naturally think the best news of the past week would have been the restoration of power Monday afternoon. While greatly appreciated, that didn't even come close. Rather there was a conversation held late in the week, a two hour treasure, a mind altering trading of words that blew me away. It will go down in my mind as one of the best talks I've ever had, and will be etched in my memory forever whether this relationship ends quickly or builds to the something special this particular conversation somehow seemed to promise. It was proof positive there is more than one kind of electricity and the most effective way to fight a monopoly is with ideas.

Now I admittedly will never ever be mistaken for one of the great poetic and philosophical conversationalists of our time, more often being accused of being a chronic mumbler, but I have in my day, had a few exchanges that have left both parties appreciating the meaning of their lives a little more. The occasions that I have been a participant in such discourse haven't necessarily been filled with deep ideas or profound and intricate sentences. There are just times when you connect, when you get to know another in a way you haven't known them before. These are moments where you want to share as much as they are sharing with you which is a significant amount.

And what did I learn? I learned the difference between creativity and inspiration. I learned that two people can be at the same place from different sides and the ability to see from the other's point of view can clarify as much as it gives one something to think about. For one who has taken his share of criticism for being too reliant on the written over the verbal word, I learned that given the opportunity I do have something to say once in a while. I also learned I have met someone very special and though I felt a twinge of sadness when we had to hang up and discontinue the conversation because of the late hour, just thinking about the areas the conversation took us made me feel a warm happiness that I hope the other felt too.

The next day I shared another special moment with another friend. We went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to look at the Monet exhibit and also the Japanese Netsuke exhibit (miniature carvings). The art was inspiring and I was even more receptive with the words from the previous night still playing in my mind. It was a good combination, the colors of Monet, the precision of the carvings and the company of someone who appreciated both. We then went fishing off the docks of Lake Como, in the drizzling rain. She caught a small pike and noted that there was something calming about water. And thus a week that began with a lack of power ended appropriately with the sharing of simple words and the swishing sound of the waves.

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