Jan 9, 2006

Earthquake musings

An earthquake rattled all of Greece yesterday. Major rattle. 6,9 on the Richter scale. Thankfully, all's well because the ocean acted as a shock absorber.

Today, coming in for work most colleagues did not greet me with the usual "Whaccha do over the weekend?" No. Today's topic is -of course- yesterday's earthquake and what everyone was doing or where everyone was when the shaking started. I mean seriously people... Do I NEED to know the nitty-gritty details how your living room lights rocked back and forth? Do I WANT to hear how you were just getting ready to sit down for your Sunday lunch and the table swayed? No, thank you. I'll pass. I have quake memories of my own to recount...

My family and I lived in a tent for 4 months after the September 1999 earthquake of Athens hit. Lives were crushed in that natural phenomenon. We were fortunate enough not to grieve the death of a close relative or friend. My family and I were safe (physically, not psychologically). Although our house had been hit hard, the foundation and basic structure were secure and most of the interior walls repairable. I took a leave of absence from work for about 2 months to keep my children's sanity from wandering off as the after-shock tremors brought on nightmares and a distrust of the earth's stability. Suddenly, common daily routines, like bathroom visits or washing dishes became Herculean tasks. Neighbors and friends were giving each other courage, hope, water and food. It was a life altering experience that humbled and educated me.

When I returned to work (back then), many were sensible enough not to ask me to retell my personal experience. Others were just plain pudding heads who assumed that whining how the earthquake cost them their finest dinnerware and swarovski collection was their way of partaking in the quake experience. The things that fell, that broke, that shattered were of no importance to me and I do not appreciate it when people dramatize the death of objects.

So, it doesn't matter where you were when the earthquake started rattling. How much did the earthquake REALLY rattle you? Counting what matters is what matters.