Sunday, August 24, 2014

Don't Panic!

"I like the cover," he said. "Don't Panic. It's the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody's said to me all day." -Douglas Adams

If you are watching or reading the news, you've probably heard that the San Francisco Bay Area was hit with a strong earthquake in the wee hours of the morning.  The news outside the area is, apparently, bad.  Here, about fifteen miles to the south of south and east of the epicenter, we're all okay. The areas hardest hit are experiencing the typical fallout of a quake- old buildings had damage, power is out here and there, there have been a few fires (our biggest fear and threat after a quake), and the bridges and public transport systems are being inspected for damage. A few people have been injured and the pictures of smashed wine bottles are already making the rounds on the internet (these really upset people, sometimes more than pictures of buildings cordoned off by caution tape). All of this is perfectly normal after a decent size quake in California.  Life is going on, so much so that my husband is still attending a track event for work at the Sonoma Raceway today (one of the first news reports of the morning was the news that raceway was fine and had not called off events for today).

For my family, the quake was not so dramatic.  It woke my husband and I up, due to the bed rocking in a rather calming fashion (we've been through much smaller quakes that knocked things off shelves, broke dishes and had us heading for cover).  The kids slept through it all.  The 30-40 seconds of strong movement is heart stopping for some people, but the more quakes you live through, the more you learn to read them.  You learn that there is a difference between being on the first and second floor of a building. You learn to pay attention to how the ground shakes, as some quakes jerk the ground beneath you and other simply rock and/or roll. You learn when to run for shelter and when to stay put. You learn to relax when the moving stops. Afterwards, you look for new cracks in walls and floors and foundations. You move the heavy objects on shelves to safer locations, and you check you emergency supplies, and you wait for the inevitable aftershocks.  Life goes on, and you learn to trust the ground beneath your feet again.

In any part of the world, you will be faced with the threat of natural disasters.  Here, we worry about droughts, tsunamis, strong storms and earthquakes.  We often forget that our species not really the boss of anything, and these events serve as reminders that we can't control most of the world around us, and that more than anything, I think, upsets us.

When you begin to fear the world around you, it becomes an enemy. When you acknowledge the strength and power of the world around you, it becomes a source of inspiration and awe.  For me, I choose to continue to love this unsteady rock beneath my feet. It is a beautiful place that has been shaped by earthquakes, glaciers, oceans, wind, gravity, trees and animals, and even humankind. It's ability to be shaped is the source of its beauty and it's strength, and I identify strongly with that.  So I bless the bedrock that reminded us this morning how powerful the Earth is. I bless the waves that took the energy and turned it into waves. I bless the air that vibrates with possibility, and I bless those who are injured, fearful or dealing with clean up this morning with the swiftest, happiest recovery possible.


  1. I grew up in Southern California. I remember Northridge, which took part of my uncles house, and had me on edge for a week. The earth is doing what the earth should be doing, and I love your outlook. Like you said, wherever you are there is something.

    Wishing everyone affected, a swift return to normalcy. And I'm glad you're all well.

  2. I remember friends and relatives being really on edge after Northridge. Up here people talk about Loma Prieta (it rattled us in Nevada, too), which is why we just got a new Bay Bridge. Things heal, and we're all safer if we can remember that these things happen and prepare to deal with them. Thanks for the comment!


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