We will not behave as a victim but be active in finding ways to reconcile and resolve all conflicts however small. 8th of the 14 mindfulness trainings ~Thich Nhat Hanh

From chemistry I recall how heat gets molecules excited. So I’d like to partly blame the 100 degrees outside right now for agitated, unsettled feelings inside, but that probably won’t help me or cool the weather. So I sit here at the laptop, hot, reminiscing and letting go of this little introspection through writing to you, dear reader.

Having just moved into an old house, I’m quite happy now have adequate space for me and the stuff. After the effort of getting the boxes and furniture in here I was excited to set up the stereo and fill the air with joyful music. That’s when I realized that this old house has electrical outlets which are not grounded; the standard in California since 1962. A quick test with a meter confirmed this. Uhh ohh, this is not good. Without a ground surge protectors are useless, thus equipment is at risk. My heart sank as some sad feelings arose. How can I power sound and computer equipment? I did not have a simple answer. Editing digital video and images is a joyful hobby that fundamentally requires regulated and safe power.

Last night a half-dozen meditation sangha friends came over for a movie night. A happy house-warming and discussion gathering. In anticipation of their arriving I set up my stereo, tv and dvd player. I sat listening to music while at this laptop typing a note to the landlord about holes in the wall, the unprotected outlets and other problems, when suddenly the music stopped. I went to check if the radio signal was gone but found that the receiver had gone off. That’s odd. When I pressed the power button it came on for a few seconds then turned right back off again. Uhh ohh, a real bad sign:-/ After a few tests I sadly realized that it is in a protect mode, and that internal resistors likely would need be replaced for it to work again, if ever. A blown amp just hours before friends are to arrive for movie night! Breathing in, calming my body, breathing out, calming my mind. That the power is unsafe was no longer a theory.

I cycled over to the landlord to give them the letter and shared my disappointment about the unsafe A/C, and that my amp was blown, likely due to a brief power surge. Doing my best to use right speech, offering what I felt was true, kind and necessary. I was told that an electrician would have to be approved and that the amp was not their problem. Breathing in, feeling strong emotions arise, breathing out, I will not behave as a victim. I left before saying or doing anything else that could make the situation worse. At home I ran an extension cord through the house from the only safe, grounded plug in the kitchen, and connected the video and tv so that movie night could still happen. The night went well with support and empathy from friends on the path.

boomin_box ~d nelson


This is the first space I’ve rented with unsafe power. I moved in here without realizing the shortcoming beforehand. There are so many things to check for when looking for a place to live. I assumed it would be safe when I rented the place, and was not told otherwise. So in a way I feel victimized. Yet I realize that when I noticed that the plugs were ungrounded and I plugged into them anyway, that was my action. I assumed that the equipment would be safe for a short time, and unfortunately was wrong. At this moment I’m enjoying conditions of happiness that exist; I’m alive, the fan is pleasantly blowing across my hot neck, and breaths that are magically calming my heart and mind. I am a victim, and I am also to blame. But I aspire to behave as a free person, free of anger, sadness or other ill being. I am having some success. Also happy now listening to new age music on my old boom box, with its bass-y, low-fi sound. Later tonight I’m assured that it will be much cooler and these excited molecules will slow down.


22 thoughts on “shocking

  1. mkesling63

    Welcome to California. One thing great about California is you can drive two hours in any direction and get a diffrent scenery. Beach, mountians, deserts, lakes, city, farmland we have it all.

  2. francisguenette

    I love the way you work through the different emotions that came up for you. An unpleasant situation turned into an opportunity to learn about self, to grow and accept, to resist being a victim without aggression. Well done. You make me feel smile calm on this semi-warm night in BC, Canada.

  3. Polly

    Congratulations on a safe arrival & on some intense & successful practice with communicating under pressure & disappointment. May there be many future movie nights.

  4. bert0001

    You can use surge protectors and UPS to control the current on dear equipment. Perhaps that is the only right action.
    Grounding can be done relatively easy. Grounding alone is useless, you also need an RCD (leakage breaker) on the grounded circuits.

  5. ♡eM

    Thanks for sharing this story of good and kind communication. May your power problem be grounded.

    If you tire of the old boom box sound, look for Pandora Radio online. I believe there is a free (but with commercials) option. You can create a radio station based on genre, artists (there are still many who aren’t on Pandora, though), song titles, etc.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thanks for your kind support and suggestion, eM. Sound intruiging to create my own radio station. Perhaps it would be something like the children’s radio show I used to produce;-)

      1. ♡eM

        It’s based on something called the music genome project, or something. The stations evolve based on the music selected and whether you like or dislike the new songs played. It’s fun to play around at Pandora Radio. I have an annual subscription (no commercials), but I believe it is still free for a limited time or something.

  6. marga t.

    Thank you for sharing your in the moment experiences and breathing through – I sometimes find it hard to translate the actual flow into words, but the effort you took is so worth it in what we all gain in the sharing! Welcome to your new abode – still within our paradoxical world! (oh, and we love pandora, in this house sans stereo.)

  7. brucethomasw

    Gee, David – I hope that your electrical will get grounded soon. It is unethical that your new landlords would have you move in like that, without having indicated there is a problem. They need to fix this. It is good your friends of the Sangha were there for your housewarming and for support – in spite the unsafe electrical conditions.
    A local electrician who came here to Canada from Europe once told me that he was so suprised, that we don’t do regular electrical safety checks here like they do in Europe – tightening connections, and making sure things are grounded, etc. I sure wish I could send him over to you, to fix your problems. I love your example of breathing in dealing with your strong emotions – sort of like the pateince of Job. Although Job was having more serious difficulties – not meaning to minimize yours.

    Thank you for sharing this story – and the previous post was moving as well – “There goes I . . . but by the grace of . . . “, Buddha – right? 🙂

    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thanks for the insight and support, Bruce. I’m still hoping for the landlord to take the right action so I can remove these heavy duty extension cords running through the house from the one safe outlet. Who knows, perhaps I’ll need your electrician from to venture down south and give me a hand;-) In the mean time I have an old amp that’s put back into service and I’m enjoying some music and appreciating the love and support of others. Wishing you a happy summer day.

  8. 365zen

    I’m glad you used Thich Nhat Nhan’s quote as well as talked about returning to your breath, as he always says we ought to do in order to get through a moment that could have easily boiled down to anger! that’s definitely something i deal with every day on the road in traffic 🙂

  9. girlseule

    Thanks for telling the story of how you dealt with the land lord, I am going to try that breath in breath out I will not behave like a victim. I hope you get your power issues sorted out.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      You’re very kind to comment. It’s useful to practice awareness of mindful breaths when life is offering beauty and ease, as well as during difficult moments. Wishing you happy success!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.