Sunday, October 28, 2012

I Felt the Earth Move Under My Feet

Though the sky did not tumble down, my heart did start trembling right along with everything else around me.

Halloween party, October 27th, 2012 at Alegria.  With me were a few good friends all decked out in their Halloween finest.  Conversation was lively.  The food was good, the drinks were flowing and music was rockin’.

Suddenly, at a few minutes after eight o'clock, so was everything else.

Several thoughts ran through my head.  Something is in my chair.  My chair is about to collapse.    I’m about to go ass over tea kettle when it does.  I'm having an anxiety attack.  Breathe. 

I kept turning and looking in utter disbelief at the chair that seemed, at that moment, to be alive.  Between the very real thought that I should be filming the poltergeist activity I was sitting on and the gripping fear that I was about to have the granddaddy of all anxiety attacks, I was quite paralysed.  Frozen to the spot while I waited for something catastrophic to ensue.

The rocking eventually stopped.  I'm guessing that it lasted no more than half a minute, but it seemed much longer.  When we realized that we had just experienced an earthquake – an extremely rare event in Houston – we all reached for our phones and iPods and the laptop to confirm our diagnosis.  Within seconds Facebook was all a-Twitter with the news.   People started posting links to earthquake sites and we started following them.

A rather large 7.7 magnitude quake hit Masset on Haida Gwaii and was felt all across the north.  People I know as far away as Quesnel felt the shaking and reported their experiences.  Today, aftershocks continue to shake the earth.  Tsunami warnings have been issued and residents in low-lying areas on the islands are being evacuated. 

The large red dot represents the earthquake that happened last night
near Masset on Haida Gwaii.  
I remember as a kid in Chilliwack feeling earthquakes from time to time.  The world would shake for a few seconds and then stop.  It never seemed to me to be a big deal.  Then again, I was a kid and had no real concept of what an earth quake was capable of.  The last time I felt an earthquake was in 1987.  I was sitting on my sofa reading a book when the mobile home I lived in started to shake.  Still holding the book, I automatically got up and walked down the hall thinking that I had to add fabric softener to my washing.  Then I remembered that I wasn't doing laundry.  Again, it took a few seconds for realization to take hold.  Earthquakes are not a common occurrence in Houston, but it was then that I also learned that we are a mere 10 miles away from a fault line that dissects British Columbia diagonally from south-west to north-east through the bottom corner of the Yukon and into Alaska.  Wow!

The reality is that Earth is in constant flux, an ever-changing and dynamic entity that offers the life it sustains no guarantees.  We are all at the mercy of a constantly evolving world that has no concern for our concerns.  Earth does what Earth does, affecting us without malice or spite as its driving force (unlike us?).  Yet we continue to be offended when disaster strikes. 

Last night as I cleaned up my house and prepared for bed, I kept thinking about how precious and precarious life is.  The brief time we have on this planet is so wasted with greed and hate and revenge and fear.  It’s also delightfully peppered with joy and love and kindness.   I felt a whole new appreciation for the blessings in my life as I crawled into my warm bed in my awesome home with my two adorable cats snuggling in next to me.  I thought about my friends and family, my job, my skills…  and I prayed to be a better person than I am; to care for and use these things lovingly, compassionately and kindly.

This morning with the snow so fresh on the ground and the soft sounds of music filling my home, the coffee tastes just a little better, the cats’ fur is just a little softer and my old couch is just a little more comfy than it was yesterday.   And I sit here pondering the wonder of being alive, of experiencing.  I speculate and deliberate once again on what it all means.  The world didn't just shift last night; I did, too.  To where and to what, I'm not yet sure…

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