Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

There are fewer things I can say I will or may never experience at home, where I have spent most of my life so far. When I experienced an earthquake tremor this Tuesday, I was in my Mother’s house in the attic, where I have spent thousands of insignificant moments in, and when the room shook for what seemed to be more than a minute, I began to look at the room and the house differently. It is still my Mother’s house of course, but now it is also a place where the unexpected can happen. It was a minor earthquake, and I am sure those on the West Coast and other parts of the world where earthquakes like the one I experienced the other day would shrug at it and move on. For those who have never experienced something like it and did for the first time, it was unsettling and just a little frightening. It is just another, very small reminder that none of us live in a cocoon, protected from what “other” people have to go through.

This became very clear to me twice in the last ten years. The first time was September 11, 2001, when the world as I and most people in this country knew it changed forever. Before that day, I had only heard of significant terrorist attacks happening in places like Israel, the Palestinian territory, India, and other countries where there were varying levels of political and social unrest. The USA appeared to be safe from it all, until that fateful day almost ten years ago. And then, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana, Alabama, and parts of Florida in 2005, my fellow Americans and I were horrified by the video footage and news reports of the utter devastation and prolonged suffering that the survivors endured in its aftermath.

These experiences make me realize how vulnerable we all are, no matter where we live, to natural and man-made disasters. It is a humbling experience, and not in a bad way either. It just makes me appreciate my good days even more.

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