I'm participating in a month long a January Mindful Writing project from Writing Our Way Home (http://writingourwayhome.com). The idea is to get people to slow down and pay more attention to the world (especially the natural world) around them by writing about it.
The project is conceived to allow those people who rush to and fro from work to shopping to home without looking up and outward to pay more attention to the world passing by. I am not one of those people. I'm the kind of person who need to be told to look at the traffic and my instrument panel instead constantly scanning the hillsides and skies for trees, flowers, birds, etc. I've been known to stop my car on the side of the road five or six times during my commute to take a picture of some lovely moment.
Slowing down and paying attention to the natural world has not never really been a problem for me, however, making the effort to put those observations in writing has been. So my month long project is less one of paying attention than it is of turning my normal level of observation and attentiveness into words.
Today my attention was captured by something different...my attention was captured by "the water" (see my earlier post this week "This is Water"). "The water" is our advanced industrial civilization, the medium through which we float taking so much for granted.
I have spent the day noticing that the electricity has stayed on without fail all day, and that due to that electricity my house, this little box of wood and siding, has maintained a constant temperature of 64 degrees, all the time that the wind has blown, snow has fallen and swirled and outside temperatures slid from 18 degrees at seven this morning to 3 degrees twelve hours later. The heat pump has continue to cycle on and off, the compressor to work, the fan to blow. The lights have remained steady and cheerful. My computer and internet have continued to function normally.
We know from experience that this does not always happen, heavy snow, ice and cold have on multiple occasions over the years resulted in downed power lines and darkness. I know (because I do have TV and internet today) that else where in North America there are people who do not have electricity, and must struggle to find warmth and light to survive the cold.
Such disruptions seem, anecdotally to have become more common, not just here but across the country. I have an increasing sense of the fragility of industrial electricity based civilization.