Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lights On/Lights Off

I am being driven not-so-slowly insane by the electric lights in our house. A couple of years ago, we had a remote-operated timer system installed for our garden lights and for certain areas of lighting in the house itself. The system has never worked properly. Mysteriously, whole banks of lights will switch themselves on in the middle of the night. We have a lovely Buddha lamp, inherited from Ellie's stepmother, and another lamp that are both supposed to operate via a remote switch by the bed. Sometimes one will go on and the other not, sometimes both go on together, sometimes neither. And they, too, will happily operate themselves with no prompting from us. I have even known the garden lights to flood the whole yard with illumination in the middle of the night.

Bad enough. Now, yesterday, the motion-sensor light in the garage refused to go off. I fiddled with the switches and found a way to turn it off manually, but then I noticed that none of the lamps in the living room would work. A trip to the circuit breaker board succeeded only in stalling the entire audio and video system, which required rebooting. Miraculously, after much frustration and bewilderment, the motion sensors in the garage began to work again--but the motion sensor lights down by the side of the house now refuse to switch off: they have been burning all night, probably blinding our neighbors into the bargain. They are still burning, and I have been unable to find a switch that will override the sensor manually.

That's not all. My bedside light went on the blink a couple of weeks ago--a halogen job which seemed to have been designed in such a way that the heat of the bulb would corrode the very fixture that held it. No sooner had we had that rewired, than the identical light on Ellie's side of the bed played the same trick. It was rewired last week--at vast expense, of course--and has now gone on the blink again. And when I went to make the morning tea--with the lights at the side of the house still burning in broad daylight--I noticed that the bank of little under-the-cabinet lights had begun to flicker on and off insistently.

Poltergeists? A curse? I'm a complete duffer, of course, when it comes to anything electrical, and am totally dependent on those who claim to know. All I know is that our electrical system seems like a mirror-image of the national economy, where even the experts only make things worse. Trying to achieve a measure of sanity, I ask myself what would the Buddha do? The Buddha did not have electrical systems to deal with--nor in fact any of those technological things that provide us with an ample source of annoyance today. There is simply so much that can go wrong, and frequently does. All he had was a pair of feet to travel on and, I suppose, a candle or two to burn at night, maybe an oil lamp. Our lives today are so complicated, and we are so dependent on others to keep things running smoothly that I find equanimity in short supply when the machinery that surrounds us runs amok. I think that I understand--and value--the concept of not-clinging, of not being attached to outcomes. I understand that how the need to control the uncontrollable serves only to increase suffering. But, boy, is it hard to "return to the breath" when the vicissitudes of life take over!

I missed my meditation this morning--the last thing to do in such circumstances--because I was obsessed with the thought of all those pennies being burned up uselessly by the lights outside. And with what it would cost to bring in, yet again, an electrician who would find, perhaps, a fix that would turn out, yet again, to be only temporary.



Catherine said...

Love it -great post!
We are indeed so consumed with "the vicissitudes of life" that it's hard to stay focused and present -and not judge or give ourselves a mental sh*tkicking. I find sometimes just going with the flow, but floating slightly above it all, objective as I can, is helpful. So I miss my work-out (my form of meditation) -that's okay, I tell myself, I accept it. Acceptance takes so much less effort than anxiety, and yet we always seem to prefer the latter. Perhaps it's the inbuilt human compunction for drama?
Hmmm. No wonder I'm a theatre writer. :)

Great post, again. Keep up the good work! I hope your lights have been sorted!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You're haunted. But it is not ill-intentioned. It is merely trying to call your attention to the fact that like all of us, you have become too dependent on things you can't control. Perhaps you should meditate on non-attachment and simplifying your life.

Or else those expensive repairmen are not very good.

mandt said...

"I missed my meditation this morning--the last thing to do in such circumstances" But, but----you see the light and that's a good thing! :)

PeterAtLarge said...

Catherine, thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the good words. I love encouragement like this! And it does mean a lot to me that my words means something to others.

Heart, yes, an indispensible meditation... but so hard to do!

Mandt, yup. But sometimes, from the practical point of view at least, it's better for the lights to go out when they're supposed to.

roger said...

you have a very complex hi-tech system there. a grand illusion. good luck.

i'll forego the many bad jokes about light and darkness in sympathy with both you and your neighbors.

Georgina said...

Ha! I work at a group home, and I swear it is haunted by one of the residents. A true story, one day things were falling in the back of the house, (where she had passed away) a broom, a shoe, and the laundry basket. I went to the back of the house, and when I came back to the front, there was a pile of roses petals in the front of the house! (TRUTH) I was freaked! I found out that she had planted that particular rose. Anyway, I just go with the flow with it now and don't worry about it.