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Friday, August 29, 2008

Curse Not the Darkness

Last night we had a three hour power outtage which affected about 15 houses in our neighborhood, one of which was ours. It happened right after dinner and the most remarkable thing followed. We lit a few candles and my daughter brought out her homework and we spent the next two hours talking over her work, evolving ideas and deciding on a theme. She completed a well thought out paper. We had a rich, relaxing, fun time and we were productive.

It reminded me of a friend who had traveled to Poland while it was still under communist influence...before Mr. Gorbachev tore down the wall. He enjoyed many hours of conversation, food, drink, guitar playing and singing (weird, huh?). He returned sometime after the wall fell and found that people no longer socialized the same. They were too busy. Too busy making money. Too busy spending money. Too busy being busy. The shining light of democracy and a free market illuminating Poland after many years of the wall's shadow did little to maintain the very human ties that originally drew him to Poland.

With no computer available, no television, no lights and only the warm glow of candles, I had a valuable experience with my daughter that makes me wonder how far we have come and what value our coming so far offers. I mentioned to my daughter that we should do this again - with or without a power out - just turn off the lights and light a candle and work on a singular task with rich focus and concentration. She agreed with a smile. And for a teenager in today's fast-paced world that's priceless.

"There is more to life than speed"
-Mahatma Ghandi