Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

9/29/2006

Thoughts in the Dark

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I never heard about the storm Milenyo ‘til it our company called for a half-day at work. That’s when I realized, it was something major, so much so that a large multi-national would call of work and thereby lose productivity in its employees.

The power went out the day of the storm at around 8 a.m. I was still under the impression that it would be back by nightfall. But, it wasn’t. In fact, the strong winds and gusts blew across the Metro and most of Luzon with amazing ferocity.

Driving home with my father, I was faced with scenes that harkened back to the old movie, “Hurricane” except this time I was right neck deep in the storm. Trees swayed back and forth, branches tied up to electrical wires, and scrap metal flew in the air.

I had images of wind-borne debris hitting our windshield in the drive home. I belated wondered if windshields were made to withstand that much. And, I said a quick prayer.

As I got home, I held the last vestiges of technology in my hands- my cellphone and a recently purchased I-pod, and used it as distraction. I found time for the things that I could not really do on a normal day – things that I’ve been promising myself I’d do. Like listen to a foreign language mp3, or read a good book, or simply sit and stare at nothing with music in my ears.

It was heaven at first. But, one by one, the technological miracles at hand soon gave out. Signals were weak and there was no entertainment to be had.

The night fell and no sign of light was coming. Though the winds and rains had subsided, so much damage was already done. There were rumors that the light would not come back until Sunday.

In that dark night, there were only a few things left – your family and yourself.

My family was a constant source of connectedness. Without the technology that bound everyone together, it was the only source of communication that I really had. I was nice to spend time with them, just talking even about inconsequential things. There was no guilt or push that I had to be somewhere else or do something else. There was nothing left to do.

Metaphorically, it was everyone’s dose of forced “roughing it.” Americans like camping with their families as bonding moments. It forces everyone to get along. In the Philippines, the parallelism should be long periods of power outages. It forces everyone to talk—really talk and share some time together.

The dark also provided a measure of solitude- because no one could see you past a certain point. The look of melancholy or thoughtfulness could easily be hidden behind a curtain of darkness.

In the dark, with all company exhausted, there is only you and your thoughts.

I was reminded of a popular song by Jack Johnson:

Love is the answer, at least to most of the questions of my heart like
Why are we here?
Where do we go?
And how come it’s so hard?

All those three questions somehow ran amok inside my head. Questions that beg to be answered and never do – because I was busy doing something else.

I am still bothered by these questions, and I still have no answers. But the important thing is that I was bothered by them.

Now, while there is still no light, only the hum of the generators, the real world seems to be held at bay. And, suddenly, there is time to sit and ponder these questions, should I come up with an answer or not.

They say people are afraid of the dark because one ever knows what can be found there. True. In the dark, there is only you and those that you hold dearest to you.

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