Morning power outage on the westside of Olympia

This morning, around 6 am, I noticed my power was out.

I called in to report it and there had been 79 reports with an estimated more than 2000 people without power. However, about 30 seconds after I hung up from reporting the outage, I heard the fridge turn on. Now, that’s what I call service.

All in all, it was a blissfully quiet morning.

Of course, thinking back to the storm outage that began on Dec 15th, I realize that I have done nothing to be better prepared. Not only have I failed to be better prepared, but I’ve even failed to re-stock the supplies that I used. So, in fact, I’m significantly less prepared than I was then. Although, I still had my old corded phone out, so I didn’t have to rummage around to find it again.

As I was dreamily sitting in the dark, I found myself wondering about several things.

I started to have such a strong memory of the cuckoo clock in my grandparent’s house. All those years, I found the hourly noise of it so annoying. Thinking back, I find that I have strong memories of the textures of the carving and the metal pinecone weights. I found myself wondering if my grandfather’s love of that clock had anything to do with a sense of security in having a clock that needed no electricity. So much of that generation’s attitude towards the world was based on the experience of scarcity during the great depression, that I wonder about a possible connection.

Thinking about the generation of my grandparents being so formed by scarcity, I think about the way that the culture of the US seems rooted in the idea of scarcity. This was one of the points made by Frances Moore Lappé, when she spoke at the Willi Unsoeld Seminar Series on 17 Apr 2007. The body blow of uncertainty and scarcity had life-long effect on my grandparents, and cannot have left my parents unaffected in turn.

When I think about the effect of scarcity on the following generation, I find myself thinking about the history of Europe as re-told by Barbara Tuchman in A Distant Mirror. There is a desperate exuberance for life and sensation in the generations to follow the calamity of the plague, maybe with a tiny echo heard in the desperate explosion of emotion and life experienced by my parents and their generation. Each followed by generations of selfishness and greed.

I find myself wondering about this pattern of contraction and expansion in terms of a possible Post-Oil culture in the US. I find myself wondering about this pattern of trauma and post-tramatic stress in terms of the culture of the Middle East, and the culture in the US that hopes to welcome home soldiers sent to foreign lands.

What, I wonder, would it take to avoid another generation of coke-addled greed monkeys several curves around the bending response to scarcity? Can an engaged eco-progressive movement do better than to turn on and tune out the future consequences delayed in time that eventually cause more harm than what healing occured to our selves and our world?

I hope so.