The Story Economy Blog

In Search of my Sub-Station

voltageLast week, during a storm, lightning struck the power sub-station just a few blocks away. At the time, I didn’t know that had happened. I just knew that our power flickered strongly. When it came back on, I noticed that the fan in my office was running more vigorously. It was louder. I turned it off and back on again, but it was still loud. I was in the middle of deadline, so I chalked it up to “oh well, whatever.”

Then I went downstairs to get some water. The lights in the kitchen were crazy bright. But . . . it had grown dark outside with the storm, so I thought my perception was off. Plus, I had been sitting at my computer all day. Perhaps my eyes were bleary and playing tricks on me, I thought. Even the light in the refrigerator was brighter. I’m really working too hard, I told myself.

All evening, I thought the lights were brighter, but I shrugged it off and didn’t say anything. By the next day, when the normally quiet bathroom fan sounded like a train, the microwave sounded like it was going to blow up, and the toaster oven burned red hot, looking like it would catch fire, I knew something freaky was going on. “We’re getting too much power!” I told my husband. His senses aren’t nearly as heightened as mine, but he couldn’t argue with a toaster oven about to blow.

I called our energy company, and they came out a few hours later. They measured the current we were getting. It’s supposed to be regulated to 240. Ours was at 275. “So that’s why everything is turbo-charged?” I asked the guy. “Yep. The regulator blew. If I were you, I’d go turn everything off and unplug it all until the crew comes in an hour or so. Otherwise, it might fry your stuff.”

A 75-watt light isn’t just a 75-watt light: it may be all the power that is safe, but it’s not actually all the power that is available. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to push it. I’d prefer not to fry thousands of dollars worth of electronics in my house. To that end, the energy crew fixed the sub-station later that day, and all was back to normal: a very good thing.

But this notion that there is more power available than meets the eye has been sticking with me. There is an explanation in the world of currents and voltage and energy regulators at electric sub-stations. But what about my sub-station? Do I have an energy regulator? Because I’d really like to find it.

What Regulates It, Anyway?

You know how some days, you’ve got energy to spare? It sizzles through you, as you knock thing after thing off your to-do list. You’re motivated, creative, and have all the right ideas at all the right times. I live for these kinds of days.

I just have absolutely no idea what creates them.

I could list what I think contributes. But it’s a long and random list, that ranges from caffeine to hormones to the phases of the moon to the amount of sleep I’ve gotten to the kind of food I’ve eaten to my husband’s mood at the time to whether or not my hair lays right that day to some inspiring movie or TV show I may have happened to watch or book I may have happened to read.

None of it is IT though. Like really it. That X-factor. The regulator in the sub-station.

What governs the amount of power getting through, not just to my physical body, but to the part of my brain that cares, has interesting and creative ideas, and—most importantly—the will the execute them?

I have learned that there are rhythms to my inspiration and creativity. If I’m in a good rhythm, I better go with it. If the muse is coming to me, for crying out loud, I better welcome her and not send her away so I can check email. Likewise, when I’m in a dark place—and I go there sometimes, because I am human—I can’t will myself out of it. I have to let the force of whatever woe me back.

It’s all the times in between, which turns out to be an awfully big chunk of my working life.

Big inspiration and energy? You bet I’ll follow. Down in the dumps? I accept it as a time to refuel. But status quo, ho-hum, low inspiration, trudging through it? That’s where I’d like to tweak my sub-station. Find the dial that turns up the voltage, just a notch. Or strike it with lightning, to shock it out of its banality. Can you make that kind of lightning, or, like actual lightning, is it solely an act of nature?

I honestly don’t know.

I want to respect my psyche’s natural balance, while finding my way to more of those inspired days. Because to walk into a room and feel the lights shining brighter? That’s sort of something. I know 240 is where the voltage in my house needs to stay. But I’d like to feel that extra bright light in my brain, just a little more often. I’d like to find that sub-station. Consider the search launched.

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