On our one quiet, powerless night after the storm, we rushed around the house in the evening, digging out candles, flashlights and radios. (This thing really bit Ohio on the butt – we’re used to sirens during extreme weather out here, and there weren’t any – just hours of insane winds and a “high wind advisory” if you happened to look at the local weather.) It took at least two hours after our power went out to even find a mention of the weather on the radio.
I listened to firemen tell local talk radio hosts that they had well over 100 power lines down that they hadn’t yet been able to get to, even with every truck and ambulance out on the streets. Then locals called and complained about mulch fires, transformer explosions and, naturally, lost power. Various city and power company officials broke in to say it may be a week before some people have electricity. Cringing over the possibility of facing my week’s deadlines at crammed local cafés instead of in my comfortable home, and wondering if I had enough non-perishable food in the house, I shut the thing off.
The absolute quiet was kind of nice as I climbed into bed early with Declan and got him to sleep. I lay there, not really wanting to risk stirring him with a flashlight, tired, but not quite ready for sleep, so I grabbed my iPod and scanned its contents. There, in my audiobooks, was that cultural phenomenon, The Secret. A friend of mine had sent me the link to the movie repeatedly, then asked if I had watched it or if I was thinking of getting the book to read. I didn’t and I hadn’t. Then she gave me access to her audio copy so that I could have it. I tried to listen to it a year ago, but wasn’t in the mood for self-help, and so it sat, in my iTunes, eventually transferring to my iPod. I gorge on enough pop culture phenomena to not want to miss out on a Oprah prophecy like this on, so I figured I would get to it eventually. I popped in the earbuds on Sunday night and hit play.
If you don’t already know “The Secret,” it is basically that if you simply learn to *expect* the universe to give you everything that you need or desire, it will. Somehow, the author tries to convince you, your anticipatory energy effects the universe and what you get from it. Therefore, if you just think you’ll be wealthy or famous or self-fulfilled or, I don’t know — an iridescent-skinned dancer who cries tears of diamonds — you will.
I lay there Sunday night, listening to the various “evidence” that The Secret works for about 2 chapters, growing drowsier by the minute. In my sleep haze, I suspended disbelief long enough to think “okay, then, the power is coming back on in the morning BECAUSE I SAID SO” and “furthermore, I am going to stop worrying so much about money,” laughed at myself and then fell asleep before 10 o’clock.
Lo and behold, my electricity came on at daybreak, with the beeping of cordless phones, lights and the whirring of the upstairs fan. More than half the city wasn’t so lucky, and there are quite a few even still without power. Then my husband started talking happily about some possible gigs he’s interested in doing, which has been a challenge for him to figure out, just a little over a year after losing his business of nearly 20 years. Then my mom, who was told she wouldn’t have power for two more days, gave us a windfall of frozen food and wouldn’t take any of it back when her power came on.
HOLY CRAP, I started thinking. Say this Secret business did work for me and here I was, not “projecting positive energy” for the hospital down the street to get its power back, or for help for the people who suffered damage from Hurricane Ike, or to end the world’s various wars, or cure the sick or anything honorable. I used my power to avoid inconvenience. I am a selfish BEE-YOTCH!
And so, just in case I really am tapped into some “frequency of the universe” that will make it do my bidding, here are a few of the things that I officially declare will happen that are completely in my self-interest, but plenty of other people’s as well:
1. The easiest & most direct one: Barack Obama will be my President. He will win Ohio. Voting in Columbus and Cleveland will go smoothly this time. Our sense of faith in democracy will begin to be restored.
2. U.S. citizens are going to suddenly be overwhelmed with the urgent and fundamental realization that our greatest strength comes in the form of compassion for people. They will be inspired to not only help the victims of Hurricane Ike, but to completely reevaluate poverty in our country in the face of the current economic crisis. Oh, and internationally…? We’ll realize that nourishing fear of our might doesn’t yield respect. Fear is not respect.
3. Somebody somewhere is currently creating a clean, easy-to-implement green technology that allows cars and electrical systems to run on a resource that’s as renewable as, say, human waste. the whole world will employ it easily and work quickly to undo the harmful effects of global warming so that Earth doesn’t end up like Venus.
What else shall we demand of the universe?