Shake It Up, Baby: Earthquake Country
Years ago, when I was a single mother of three children, we lived in the High Desert of California for about 30 months before returning to Colorado. It was inland, very close to a fault line, at an elevation of 2,300 feet. During those months, I felt just one minor earthquake of no consequence, as the countertop I was standing next to swayed slightly for less than five seconds. No big deal to me at the time. I thought, "That's all there is to an earthquake? I can handle that."
Fast forward to 2023. I am back in California and live within one mile of the edge of the North Coast, at the edge of the country. Quick and easy to get to the waterfront views. Quick and easy to get to a sandy beach. Not so quick and easy to recover mentally from the many earthquakes the state has experienced in the past couple of months. From the North Coast to Los Angeles and beyond, things have been shaking...often.
This morning, bright and early at just before 2:30 a.m., I was awakened by the new "Quake Alert" device I have stuck to the doorframe of my second-floor bedroom. As the alarm squealed, it shattered my deep sleep. It was not a dream! My bed shaking lasted about five seconds. Nothing violent. Not frightening. I remained calm, not getting out of bed. But it was the second occurrence of bed-shaking in the past few weeks.
On December 20, 2022, we had a big one, measuring 6.4 -- also at 2:30 a.m. Today's quake was lighter than the 10-second severe jostling of that morning. Yes, its epicenter was about 20 miles south of my house, but many here felt it in a big way. Much shaking, breaking glass, items thrown out of kitchen cabinets by the jostling. I was one of the lucky ones. The homes of others near the epicenter are yet uninhabitable more than a month later.
All that said, for nearly two weeks after the December quake, I was unnerved. On alert throughout each day, I was cautious about going to bed each night. I have not yet been able to fully return in my memory to focus on how it felt to be thrown back and forth on my bed in the darkness, shouting ,"No, no, stop, stop, stop!" I had no control over what was happening. Fear was my state of mind for many days later, wondering if I should sleep downstairs. Wondering if I'd be woken by another overnight quake, thinking "would it be worse next time?" Therefore, I am grateful that this morning's incident was indeed mild.
For those of you who do not live in earthquake country, I know there are tornados, hurricanes and other natural disasters to learn to live with. In reality, we live in a "shaky" world. Think about it: we are all on a ball that rotates and hangs in mid-air, turning and rotating daily in God's universe. We humans are mere "ant-size" compared to the size of our sun, other planets or other galaxies. We cannot always be in control of "our world." The Creator is the one in control of his creation, and we must focus on that.
Therein is where I'm learning to get my peace and not give in to fear. When the world shakes beneath my feet, I have to trust God. It does no good to be afraid, overall. It does make sense to be prepared. I have an emergency kit and gallons of water for use if necessary; I hope they are never needed. Yet what I've come to realize since December 20, is that whatever happens, I just have to "go with it." If my life is to come to an end during an earthquake, God is still in control. All of our days are numbered. We each move on from this life. As the saying goes, "We don't get out of here alive."
Yes, I pray there will be no more violent earthquakes here. Yes, the sun will come up tomorrow, God willing. And if it doesn't, it's not for me to control or worry about. I can pray and I do. But we each need to just live our lives. If the ground beneath us shakes, rattles and rolls, we just have to hang on. Take deep breaths, and be grateful that things are not worse. Express gratitude for today...just for today and what it brings. Tomorrow is unknown.
And so I am learning to be a resident of earthquake country. Will shaking happen again? Most likely. Will it be dangerous? It could be. But I can't dwell on those thoughts. I've got a lot to do and a life to live until my time on Earth has ended. I know I am blessed.
But the song lyrics of "Shake it up, baby, now..." and "Shakin' all over" and "Shake your booty..." have taken on a new meaning for me. Welcome to California!