Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Day the Earth Shook

There was an earthquake today.

Having lived in the uneventful (weather-wise) regions of eastern Ontario/western Quebec all my life, I discovered today that a person can learn so much about herself during an earthquake. Will you be brave or will you scream and cry? Will your life flash before your eyes or will you draw a blank? And (funnily enough), will you even know an earthquake is what is causing the shake?

On day two of my new job, I sat at my in my borrowed office - while mine was being built - doing the usual first week reading and familiarizing. I am enthusiastic and energetic and everything seems right with the world. That is when the earth began to shake.

I knew immediately that it was an earthquake, incredulous as it was. Almost as some sort of coping mechanism, my brain tried to convince me that it was being caused by construction workers, possibly doing some kind of drilling. But I knew better. Sure enough, I stepped into the hallway where the other women in my office had gathered in doorways, their faces mirroring the shock and confusion I felt.

I realized that I am braver than I think (as are the women I work with, although I cannot speak to their self-perceptions of bravery or cowardice). Unlike the construction workers who bolted down the stairwell ("Run! Go as fast as you can!"), we took deep breaths and looked into one another's eyes and rode it out. Laughing at the end.

My boyfriend, R.J., had a different experience. In a much taller building than mine, he recounts seriously thinking that the building was going to come crumbling down and that this was the end. Which makes me think. Even though my experience was more calm, it still made me appreciate my loved ones. I was happy to hear their voices on the phone afterward, delighted to see their beautiful faces. Happy to arrive at my home, sit on my own couch, speak to a cousin/friend on the phone, and watch 'The City.' It's the small things that make life worth living.

What I discovered, and I'm sure many others did as well, is that at that moment I was not in control of my life. A force greater than me was. Call it the Creator, Mother Earth, God, whatever you will. Maybe it was a warning or maybe we were saved. Maybe it was just an earthquake. In any event, I am just glad to have my feet planted firmly on the ground.

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