Yesterday the largest blackout to ever hit the northeast United States knocked out power from New York to Cleveland including parts of Ontario. News sources tell us that the loss of power was probably caused by a faulty power station in Ohio. It is frightening to think that the interconnectedness of the power grids could allow such massive blackouts to occur so quickly. In New York, subways stopped running, elevators trapped many, and ultimately millions of people ended up on the streets away from home. To their credit, there was no more panic and violence than usual. But to me, the most amazing thing is the power of power over our lives, both for better and worse.
We take so much that we gain for granted — our lights, air-conditioning, refrigerator, water that is pumped to our houses. Realistically, I can’t imagine living without them. However, we also take our losses for granted, often forgetting what it is we have lost. One man said, “You can actually see the stars in New York City!” The amazement that he felt over the sudden regaining of the lost beauty of night struck me hard.
I grew up in a small town in the mountains in northern New Mexico, and to this day I can recall many nights of joy spent gazing at the majesty of the heavens spread out before me. I have felt that loss on and off over the years I have lived here in Denver, and getting away to the mountains always rekindles the feelings of loss. However, most of the time in the city I don’t bother looking up at night. The glow of the city consumes my stars and I’d rather not remember. But today I remember, and long to leave the big city. And the power of power over me is, for today, something I regret.