The subtle power of natural disasters
Washington DC, my current home, got socked by two natural disasters last month. We experienced a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, and then just days later, Hurricane Irene ripped through the District.
Fortunately there was minimal physical damage.
But something subtle happened in the space between the earthquake and the hurricane. The vibe in the city grew thick and heavy with anxiety. This of course is to be expected.
What interests me is the feeling behind that anxiety. People were anxious because they were reminded of their own mortality and the mortality of their loved ones.
They felt anxiety because death was closer to their doorstep than normal and they didn’t want to die; they didn’t want bad things to happen to their loved ones.
Natural disasters and near death experiences have a rare power to them. They strip away the bs that we think is important (status, money, material goods, TV shows, technology, education levels, etc) and leave behind the things that are important: connection to yourself, and connection to others.
They remind us, if only for a short while and very subtly, how awesome it is to be alive.
The trick is to live in such a way so that we don’t need momentous occasions to appreciate life and the people we surround ourselves with.