OR: WHY I'VE CHOSEN TO LIVE LIKE A WILD ANIMAL
FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS
I decided the day that I started this blog to be candid about my computer shortcomings and share the best pratfalls I took on the way. I kept that vow. More recently, when I began to Action Manifest, I pledged to be equally candid. And the time has come to keep that pledge. Like anyone else, I enjoy sharing moments of success. But we need to keep this real--and that's what I'm about to do.
My power's been shut off.
Correction: My power was shut off the very day I called to pay it. And I'd had no clue that the account was in the red. Correction: not that badly in the red.
When I called the power company, I went into shock. And I heard myself making excuses: I'm a writer, you see...I haven't been to the post office in a month to check my mail...I never got a warning call...When I got to the point where I started to say 'I'm irresponsible, I admit, but...' I shut up. This had always been my perception of Me: the wildly talented guy who 'forgets' to do some things. Sometimes some pretty basic things.
I shut up, I say. And I shut up long enough, thinking about that poor sorry old self, for the clerk to say: "Sir, would you like to pay that amount now by credit or by debit card? That would be the full past due amount, plus a reconnect fee of $70." I said, ever so quietly, "No, son. No thanks. I'll pay it on the 23rd." This nice young guy began to plea, "Sir, you can't go without power for two weeks! Do you have the past due amount?" I said, "Yes, but that's okay." The answer freaked him even more. "Sir, please, let me get a supervisor! We can't waive the reconnect fee, but sometimes we can set it up on installments. Or I can give you some numbers of social services agencies." That should have worked, I suppose...and yet it did not. Not after starring in eight chapters of Action Manifesting. I simply could not be the schlub who'd been too irresponsible to pay his bill on time and now had to beg like a loser. I heard these words come from my mouth:
"Right now, more than help, I need to make the darkness my best friend."
I hung up. Life, I'd learned, is an outpicturing of our inner pictures. And I'd manifested darkness because I'd focused too long and hard on Not Wanting to be such a screw-up. I'd manifested darkness because I need, and need right now, to focus on the Do Want: becoming the go-to, responsible guy. To do this, I decided, I had to do more than accept the consequence of my nonpayment. I had to welcome the darkness into my life.
And so begins the two-week Blackout. Here are the rules, with no cheating allowed:
1) No lighting accessories allowed. No flashlights, no Coleman lanterns, no batteries for my clock/alarm. No candles. I have only the darkness to guide me and the moonlight, at night, through my windows. My cell phone will have to serve as my temporary alarm clock.
2) No store-bought relief from the heat: e.g., a new battery-operated fan.
3) No siphoning of power from the electrical outlet in the outside vestibule. A previous upstairs neighbor had run extension cords from it to his unit and enjoyed the full use of TV, fan, lamps, etc., after his own disconnect. No, this is my correction, one that I need, and I will not steal.
4) No use of the outside vestibule light to help me make my way.
5) No help from anybody. I pay my own bills and, from here on, I fix my own bleep.
So, how's it going, you wonder.
Yesterday, to steel myself, I cleaned the fridge out of all food and drink. I organized my clothes for this morning and set them in the living room, so I'd be able to see them even in the early light. I packed the things I knew I'd need: razor, shampoo, hair dryer, cologne. At 5 a.m., when I woke, I did 600 crunches and sponge-bathed in absolute darkness (so far, the water still runs hot!). Then I walked to Starbucks to roll the dice on Hygiene, Part 2: they have a private mensroom, which I was able to use at that hour to wash my hair and shave. During the week, I can use the gym shower at the church.
End note, for now:
Everything hinges on mindset and daily preparation. And complete success, for me, depends on no one that I meet knowing what I'm going through. I needed a lesson I chose to accept. I'm on the road today--clean-shaven shampooed and fresh. Tonight I'll return, around 11 p.m., to a dark apartment and need to get up by 5.a.m. tomorrow. No pity sought or accepted. I'm in the zone with my new friend, darkness. I'm grateful for the chance to get this lesson in my blood and bones. After all, I can hardly be an Action Manifester and a pussy both at once. I screwed up and now cheerfully pay.