For all my East Coast friends who experienced the 5.8 earthquake on this sunny Tuesday, Carole King’s lyrics have taken on new meaning. I did indeed feel the earth move, and my immediate reaction (which was somewhat delayed by cognitive dissonance, not to mention the fact that I was, well, “indisposed” at that very moment) was to stand in a doorway and wonder if that was in fact what I was supposed to do.
Well, if you’ve known me for five minutes, you know that something like this is bound to cause me to have a Metaphor Moment:
While the earth was shaking, I had no idea how long it would go on, or how violent it would get, or how much damage there might be. And oddly, I wasn’t thinking ahead so much as marvelling at the idea that it was happening at all. I knew it was completely out of my control, and my only option was to wait it out. Find the safest place I could get to quickly, without putting myself at further risk.
While my heartbeat definitely kicked up a notch, I didn’t experience fear in the ways that I’ve experienced it before, which makes me wonder what my other fears have been about.
Hmmm. The earth was moving beneath me, I didn’t understand what was happening at first, it was hard to find my balance, and I had no idea what the outcome would be. Sound familiar? Very much like the catalytic events we are all faced with from time to time that really rock our worlds. But unlike events that rock my social self, in this case I wasn’t thinking of outcome. My essential self just instinctively found a safe place and waited. Everything in my immediate world was in motion, but I somehow knew I’d be all right.
As soon as the walls stopped swaying, I heard the voices of neighbors in the street, and left my chandeliers still swinging to go out and join them. Wide-eyed and animated, we all reconnected and regrouped. There were hugs of relief all around. It was a nice reminder of the way we seek solace with those close to us when major life shakeups happen.
If I can learn to behave the way I did during the quake when I’m feeling unsteady and out of control, I wonder if life might not just be a little easier? Find a safe place, watch with curiosity, and wait it out. Then go find the people who are there to love and comfort me when the tectonic plates of my life have shifted.
The earthquake didn’t last long, but it sure shook a lot of folks up. Facebook lit up with comments from Virginia Beach to New York City. My favorite post was from the person who noticed that their “emergency response is to post on Facebook.” It’s a great metaphor for how sometimes, we do something that doesn’t make any sense at all under the circumstances, it just makes us feel better.