A jolt of friendship when the power’s out

Experiencing last Thursday’s power outage in Southern California led to some observations about the hearts of most of us. At our Guitar Sounds studio our students took to the outdoors for their lessons. Music was in the air at our usually quiet office complex which was a buzz with concern about the power problem and everyone opened their doors.
Some were happy to take a break from their work and others were concerned about the magnitude of the problem. Worries about terrorism were expressed. Concerns about family and people who would be most impacted were being discussed. Then word came that we could be without power for three days. There was more talk about terrorism and emergency readiness. All understandable.
What I then observed when everyone seemed to settle down and accept the situation was something I think all of us need, that is real, sincere and spontaneous friendship broken away from the drive of technology.
As for myself, I started with “Oh well, might as well enjoy it.” No computer, no cell phone, no TV, no constant sense of feeling like I need to check on my business all led to a sublime night in paradise.
I came home and my wife and kids already had brought out the candles, flashlights, unplugged all the appliances in case of a surge. I arrived and plans were already in motion. My daughter had already arranged a hot dog roast with one of her neighbor friends. Another dear exuberant neighbor Melody was at our house talking to my wife about fears of terrorism as we hadn’t yet heard what the cause of the outage was.
I assured her it was all going to be all right. She said “Great! I’m glad you think that. Let’s break out the lemon cello and have a party.”
We were all down for that! I went outside and noticed all the kids in the neighborhood were out walking and congregating together. There was happiness in the air. My oldest son was following the opening season NFL game in his car. School had been cancelled and everyone in our hood was visiting on the street.
I had a few conversations with kids and no one was checking their texts while I was talking to them. Darkness ensued and no streetlights went on. The moon lit us all. Soon to be college students were visiting with adults. It was a warm night and it was quiet except for conversation. We took it off the street and a few households gathered to have a spontaneous party at our neighbor Melody’s house!
My youngest boy was exhuberant. “Dad this is like an adventure, flash lights, fires, candles and it’s all dark!”
Everyone brought something to drink and snack on. We settled down and one of the teenagers asked me to go get my guitar. One of the adults chimed in and said let’s not make Peter work tonight. I appreciated the consideration however it was one of those nights where friendship, a beautiful summer night and having no control (as we were all unplugged) brought us all together in such a sincere and innocent way that it was the best of all conditions to bring in my guitar.
One neighbor chimed in “let’s get together at the next power outage.” It was clear that everyone was glad to be forced away from technology for face to face friending.
In all this my prayer is that the utilities worker that made the mistake leading to the outage will receive mercy and compassion and that he won’t take it too hard. Hopefully more good will come out of this than harm. It did in our neighborhood.


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