Last night, the power went out in my Shanghai apartment. And it brought me back.
The fuse box blew and I called the repairman. For all of Shanghai’s annoyances, one amazing thing is that even at midnight, someone is ready to come fix problems and make a few extra RMBs.
For the next hour, I lit all the candles in my apartment and sat in silence. I read things on my computer. The battery bar was red. I thought about how I always plugged in all of my electronics every chance I had while living in Cameroon. That slight nervousness of not knowing when the computer will die and when the power may resume was a feeling I haven’t had in a long time.
As an automatic reflex, I turned on the radio to RFI (Radio France Internationale). This was how I spent many powerless nights in my village home. I sat and reminisced. There once were two years of my life where I’d spend a few nights a week, without warning, in such peaceful darkness. That life feels like a dream now. Did that really happen? How was I able to live life in such solitude yet rarely feel lonely?
Last night, I embraced this darkness once again. Life moves too quickly these days. We can all use a few unexpected nights of darkness to reflect upon life. The unexamined life is not worth living, yet today’s life leaves me with little chance for examination.
Before I could finish my inner thoughts, the repairman arrived. Within 15 minutes, I had power again. But as I thanked him for his efforts and closed the door. I turned off the lights, and sat by candle light.