Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Living with the fact of the Really Big One

We all know the dire realities.

Nine point two on the Richter. A mountain of water 700 miles wide.  

When. Not if.

Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Portland, Salem, Eugene.

The greatest natural disaster in the history of the United States.

Old news. We've known for years. But Kathryn Shultz's  "The Really Big One," which appeared in the New Yorker last week, is a hair-raising reminder.

We need to prepare. As individuals and collectively.

You can learn a lot about preparation at You can also contact your elected representatives. You can also get emergency training at many local fire departments. Gratis.

As a first step, my wise and prudent wife and I will build an emergency kit. Not a small step. It takes discipline and effort. Storage space must be found. Investments will be required. Supplies must be rotated.

There is another kind of preparation, as well.

Foreknowledge of disaster instills a sense of fate. Like the fact of one's own death.

As a proud, lifelong Oregonian, I nurture a certain resignation. A recognition of forces greater than myself.

To quote Shakespeare's Richard II, "Cry woe, destruction, ruin, and decay. The worst is Death. And Death will have his day."

When the time comes, I hope to be ready. In both senses.

(Click here to listen to a reading of Jim Shepard's "Cretan Love Song," a short story dealing with the same subject matter. The story begins at the 20:50 mark of the podcast. It's just over 5 minutes long. I hope I could have the same self-awareness and courage as the protagonist in this powerful story.)

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