I was late going to bed
I was determined to finish a book before I hit the sack. Feeling a little cold, I nonetheless started to drift into that gentle place between awakeness and sleep, that restful space where the mind and body are at ease with the world and with each other.
The bed began to shake and roll
At first, in my semi-conscious state, I thought it was Ragz, my dog, kicking and pushing the bed. Then quickly realised that even I couldn’t push the bed. So how could a medium-sized dog move the bed?
Ragz started barking. I was jolted back to consciousness by the realisation that this was an earthquake! But being awake and moving aren’t necessarily the same and for what seemed like an eternity the rocking and rolling continued as I lay frozen in my bed.
Such a weird feeling; not moving – yet moving – especially lying prone in what would usually be considered a safe place. Before the rolling finished, I hopped out of bed and put on my dressing gown.
The moving ceased
My internal dialogue was along the lines of:
Ragz OK? Check.
Shaggy OK? Check.
Lights on in the street? Check.
Put the TV on, see what’s happening everywhere else.
Put on National radio. Lots on Facebook. BBC got it already. Ring folks in the UK, they’ll panic if they hear about it on the news first.
I must say, at this point that what I experienced was tiny in comparison to what people in Kaikoura, Christchurch and the surrounding areas have been experiencing. There, the quakes have been so severe that they can’t stand up and aftershocks that reoccur every few minutes and are almost as bad as the original.
Why am I writing this?
On the afternoon of New Zealand’s biggest earthquake, a massive 7.5 on the scale that measures these things, why write about it?
Well, firstly, I thought you might find it interesting. Not many people in the world have survived such an earthquake. Secondly to remind all of us that we never know when our life may end. Yes, I know it sounds a bit melodramatic, and maybe it is. But we can’t control everything.
We can’t control the timing and the forces of nature, and we can’t control the seismic shifts that result in earthquakes.
The only things we can control are our reactions. We can pray that we have an opportunity to react – that we’re not wiped out in an instant under a building that has protected us until that point.
Thirdly, an event such as this helps us put things back into perspective,
It helps us reconnect with what’s most important. It’s at times like these that many people make more effort to look out for and look after one another; to make sure those older, younger or less fortunate are taken care of. I believe this is the nature of being human. Everything else is just a distraction. In Kaikoura, the locals are doing a fantastic job of looking after all the tourists stranded there and doing their best to serve excellent meals, seemingly fresh from the ocean, with limited other resources.
Disaster can have a positive effect
Disasters have the effect of drawing communities together and of bringing out the best in people. Yes, you’ll always get the odd scumbag opportunist who decides to ransack the home of an evacuated family. But these losers are such a tiny percentage that it’s much more productive to focus on the good in humanity. Disasters can build stronger communities and more resilient people.
Lack of water
In Raglan, the quake that I felt affected our water supply and the stream that feeds into it. At the time of writing we have to boil water for drinking, not shower (we’re all starting to get a bit stinky at this point!) and not use washing machines or dishwashers. It’s heartening to read on our local Facebook pages that people just outside town who are on tank water are offering showers or fresh water to anyone who wants to take advantage.
We’re not complaining – we know just how lucky we all are. And those people in severely affected areas are constantly in our thoughts and prayers.