When You Have Nothing to Say

(Talking to myself and listening, too – an excerpt)

Say it with a lot of flowery and complexly strung together sentences. Say it with as much mess as you can amass. Massage the blank page with black letters that string along a lot of nonsense until something comes to mind, a compelling download from a voice that is struggling to be heard, a piece of wisdom stuck in your teeth that you – thankfully – never managed to floss away.

When there is nothing to say, say it loud and proud. After all, you are a wise woman with many years of nothing left to say said loud and sometimes proudly and sometimes with the attitude of “If you don’t like it, don’t listen,” or “If you don’t like it, forget it as soon as it is said, but I am, I have, I will.”

Don’t worry about grammar or tone or syntax. Okay, I know you. You can’t not worry about spelling. Somehow with all the things that keep you from expressing yourself – fear of failure, embarrassment, success, longing for more from the ones who listen – the thing that you worry most about is spelling. How mundane.

But mundanity is your stock in trade isn’t it? asks another voice that demands to be heard on this topic. “The Extraordinary Ordinary,” you respond with righteous indignation and not a little bit of astonishment that the being voicing its opinion doesn’t know the difference. After all, isn’t it part of you? Are there really parts of you that just don’t know what is going on though they emerge from the same source?

Channeling these voices is an exhausting process. You feel yourself losing steam just when you thought you had a good clip going and you know you have been hijacked by that lazy … okay not lazy … insecure … please don’t use that word … uncertain (sigh!) young person who never grew up because… well who knows why not. There seems to be some part of me that will always be a child. That has to be okay.…

Lessons from the power outage

From 1:11am Monday, October 30th through 11:35 am November 2nd, my generator provided my house with electricity. A massive wind storm devastated many areas of Vermont, knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes.

Having a generator allowed me to cook (which I did), and even watch TV if I wanted (I didn’t). As the generator hummed along, I got work done. Then my internet service and landline went out. Though I could text and make calls using my cell phone, this was too much for me. Ninety percent of my work is done online. Once that was impossible, I tried to work offline. Then I began to obsess about when internet service would return.

I packed my bags and drove to town. Thank goodness, our local library – Lawrence Memorial – was fully functioning and open. Sitting with others seeking internet, solace, and company, I calmed down and focused on bringing “normality” to my day by working.

Still, I couldn’t help but listen to conversations among folks who came by to drop off books or seek something to read. Some had electricity and others didn’t. The outages were widespread and seemed random.

At home when I wasn’t feeling frustrated and helpless, I felt grateful that I’d invested in a generator. It had been a huge expense I hadn’t planned on but I’d already experienced a lengthy power outage and didn’t want to go through days without electricity again. More importantly, I was grateful that I’d had the money to make the purchase.

The outage reminded me of how fragile our connections are. Electricity is needed for most of the work that we do. When it is not available, we can become totally cut off from essential activities and each other.

I learned that I have the capacity to accept what is happening without feeling like a victim. I periodically contacted Green Mountain Power and Green Mountain Access for updates, making sure that I spoke with someone, and I asked them lots of questions. It took all my restraint not to resort to sarcasm and anger as I tried to glean why our area still had no power. Customer service representatives were helpful without promising anything, and they were very polite. Eventually, I put myself in their shoes: Probably hundreds of unhappy customers were calling them, many of them angry.  How difficult their jobs must have been during this time.

And when I felt really low, I texted or phoned a neighbor or friend to see how they were doing. I let them know they could shower or cook at my home should they want to do so. After all, I wasn’t the only person being inconvenienced.

Ultimately, the outage helped me to practice gratitude, patience, compassion, and kindness. It helped me to realize that I am rarely as alone and helpless as I think I am. Looked at from that perspective, it wasn’t that bad.