Longing for (Dis)Connection by Katey Zeh


yuzki-yuqing-wang-585257-unsplashAs I type this post, I have another browser window open to track the path of Hurricane Florence due to make landfall in my area sometime later this week. Though I now live a few hours inland, I grew up in a coastal town, so I know how unpredictable storms like these can be. It’s entirely possible that we will get a bit of rain and wind and nothing else–and it’s just as possible that we’ll be spending quite some time without power. I pray that the latter is the absolute worst of what we all endure here.

In preparing for the storm and potential power outage, I was reminded of a time about a year ago when I was returning home after dropping off my daughter at school. As I approached the first stoplight on my route, I noticed that it wasn’t working. That’s odd, I thought.  I drove on, navigating through another half dozen malfunctioning traffic lights before arriving safely back home only to discover that the power was out there too.

I used the little remaining battery life I had left on my phone to check the estimate of when our power company would restore service: two hours. No problem, I thought. I’ll get out my fully charged laptop and I’ll chip away at my to-do list until the power comes back on.

Not so fast. As it turned out, I hadn’t downloaded a single document that would be useful in accomplishing anything work-related accomplished. Without internet access, I was stuck.  As a self-described productivity junkie, this situation was frustrating, but it was completely out of my hands.

In the midst of feeling annoyed and restless, I heard a voice inside me say: this is your moment to do something just for you. I remembered that several weeks prior I’d checked out a novel from the library I’d been wanting to read but hadn’t made time to open. Now I had two straight hours of nothing to do but read for pleasure. What an indulgence.

Just as I was getting deep into the first chapter, I was startled by the obnoxious high-pitched beeping sounds of numerous kitchen appliances being reset at the exact same moment. The power was back on. And to my surprise, I didn’t feel relieved. I felt sad. Disappointed. There went my guilt-free reading time, I thought. I dutifully turned my laptop back on and got to work.

I’ve often thought back on that day and what it revealed. Deep down there is a part of me that yearns for that kind of disconnection, even if externally imposed, from the sources that feed my need to be constantly productive. I have this unmet longing for permission to relax, enjoy, and play–to reconnect with parts of me that I neglect in favor of work.

As I watch the storm make its way across the Atlantic, I’ll admit that a small part of me hopes for a little disconnection as we wait for it to pass.

Let me be clear: we have all seen how hurricanes endanger the lives and well-being of people in far more vulnerable situations than my own. I would never wish harm on anyone. I also recognize access to shelter, food, and water are basic necessities that I take for granted and that many live without. My prayer is first and foremost for the safety and well-being of the people, animals, and nature in its path, especially those along the coast.

But if the hurricane must come, I pray also that it would serve as a reminder that there is so little that we actually control. That there is a certain freedom in riding out the storm. That there is opportunity for light to shine in the dark.

I’ve got my book and flashlight ready.

RA82Rev. Katey Zeh is an ordained Baptist minister, a nonprofit strategist, writer, and speaker at the intersections of faith and gender justice.  She is the Executive Director of BrightDot Academy, a personal and professional enrichment initiative of the performance consulting firm Crouch & AssociatesShe is the co-host of Kindreds, a podcast for soul sisters. Her book Women Rise Up will be published by the FAR Press later this year.  Find her on Twitter at @kateyzeh or on her website kateyzeh.com.

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Categories: Faith, Gift of Life, Nature, Spiritual Journey

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15 replies

  1. Touching post Katey, I do hope you will find ways to care for your self without waiting for the next power outage. Never forget: “life is meant to be enjoyed” and “love your neighbor as yourself implies that we must love ourselves too.” Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can remember only too well when I couldn’t ever give myself permission to slow down… it wasn’t until mid life that I began to realize that if I didn’t start changing my attitude my life would be over without my having ever lived it. What is it about this patriarchal idea of being “productive” that keeps us on the run? And what are we running from at such great speed? One answer might be that we fear finding out that no own is home within. At least that’s what happened to me. Today, winter is still my favorite season because the days are short and the sun is low on the horizon giving me “permission” to simply be…

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  3. I have three friends (clients) at Duke University in Durham, another friend further inland. I’ve told them all I’m thinking of them. One of them said he rode out a hurricane in the 90s and was ready now.

    You know what’s Really Fun (hah!)? When you live in an old apartment building (mine was built in 1940) and someone’s fooling around and the power goes off while you’re in the middle of doing some important work on your computer. Blam! It’s gone. Last time that happened, I was in no mood to pick up a novel.

    There are nifty LED lanterns you can buy online. They last longer than flashlights and give plenty of light. Buy a couple of those lanterns and also keep one or two novels handy so you’re prepared next time. Or this time……if anything can be delivered in flooded streets. Take care and be safe! We’ll all be thinking of you and your neighbors all over the state. Be safe!

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    • Thank you, Barbara. I’m about 30 minutes away from Duke, and while Chapel Hill got some flooding, we didn’t even experience much here, not even a power outage. I did spend a lot of time outside with my daughter (in the middle of the storm!) splashing in the puddles and watching the geese on the lake near our house.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Isn’t it curious how people are different? I do hope you get some self-care time, Katey. This is one of those essays, though, that I simply can NOT relate to. I’m 57 but I learned early – sometime in my late 20s – to make time for my needs; as someone with tendency to extreme introversion, I had to.

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    • Darla, it gives me hope that you can’t relate–that achieving this is possible! I had no model of self-care and if you’re familiar with the Enneagram, I’m a type 1, which means I want to be seen as morally good at all times. It really gets in the way of my having fun and relaxing. I continue to work on it, but it’s probably the biggest personal challenge in my life. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Katey, I hope you are not being battered by Florence as I read, and that all your batteries and candles are handy if needed. Storms are indeed, an opportunity for deeper awareness on many levels. I’d be interested in knowing what happens between you and Florence.

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  6. “Unmet longing for permission to ….” (Do all the wondrously creative, restful, playful things that make life worthwhile & fill my spirit with joy!!!) Katey, you & I are living the same life! Thank you for this reminder.

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