In 1994, Los Angeles experienced an earthquake at 04:31. The magnitude of the earthquake was 6.7 on the Richter scale. My family and I were in bed when it happened. As we had been taught when we first arrived to LA, when there’s an earthquake, stay under the door-frames since they are reinforced. There we were, my mom, my aunt and I, huddled together under the door frame. If you’ve ever experience an earthquake you know the feeling. If you’ve ever experienced an earthquake of this magnitude, you understand the sheer terror you can experience as the earth quakes under your feet leaving you no place to be stable. This earthquake was felt all the way over in Las Vegas, about 360 km away. The peak ground velocity was the fastest ever recorded. Two aftershocks of a magnitude of 6.0 on the Richter scale were recorded. In total there were several thousand aftershocks. 57 people died, 8700 people were injured and the property damage was between 13 and 50 billion dollars.
An earthquake doesn’t last very long. This one lasted 10-20 seconds. But while it’s happening it feels like an eternity.
My mom and my aunt wanted to try to reduce the stress during those few seconds and since they used to sing together a lot, they decided to sing a song in Hebrew which they sung often enough for me to know. Here are the words.
“My God, my God, may it never end;
the sand and the sea,
the ripple of the waves,
the thunder of the sky,
After the earthquake was over they laughed at having sung a song that asks for it not to end during an earthquake.
Years later, whenever I experience an event which can be considered a force of nature, I find myself singing this song. Even if it’s just a strong storm and not something literally earth shattering like that earthquake. The song comes to me naturally, without thinking.
Do I laugh at the irony of the words as I experience it? Not anymore. Because now I understand it differently. You see, the words are essentially asking God to continue and let nature take its course. I’ve been in some events during which I feared for my life. But remembering that this is part of nature, that the earth has always been this way and continue to be this way is very humbling. Who am I to ask that nature act differently? And if it were my time to leave, then so be it. That too is a part of nature and a part of the ongoing cycle. This is not to say that I don’t do everything possible to stay alive and survive. I do. But recognizing that this is just part of the natural order of the world puts things in perspective, reduces my fears and lets me enjoy the absolute awesomeness – in the true sense of the word – of nature and it lets me think more clearly thereby increasing my chances of survival during the truly dangerous events.