This week shook me. And at the tail end of it here I still find myself a bit jolted, confused and disoriented. I feel shaken. Sometimes I am disarmed by how steady and stable I can feel one moment, only to be knocked off my feet the next.
Years ago, I was in the only earthquake I’ve ever experienced. I was told afterward that it was a small earthquake, but it didn’t feel small to me as it was happening. I was on the second floor of the building I was working in at the time, when slowly at first, but then a bit more violently, things begin to move, shimmy and dance across the room. Desks migrated from one side of the room to the other and books bounced off shelves. The ground moved underneath my feet and the walls around me began to tremble and sway. It was terrifying. My perception was thrown off and I had to fight for the balance that came so easily only moments ago. I grasped for something, anything,that would hold me steady, but nothing around me seemed to do the trick. How on earth was I supposed to steady myself when everything around me was moving?
To this day, that remains one of the most unsettling sensations I have ever experienced. Objects that I assumed were solid, fixed, reliable structures, simply gave way with the strange and sudden movement of the earth, and I lost my balance in the turmoil. For several minutes after the tremors ended I remained unsteady as I struggled to regain my footing on solid ground. I wasn’t even sure what constituted solid ground at that point. Could I trust the next step I took, or might the ground give way underneath my feet? Was my perception still off? Surely I was risking a tumble with my next move.