LIVE AND LEARN: Earth’s ‘wake up’ call

Luis Bahena

On April 4, at approximately 3:35 p.m., I was sitting on my Ikea bed, playing my Nintendo DS while listening to “28 Weeks Later” in the background. It was a lazy (as well as a recovery) Sunday, so I refused to shower and change out of my “jammies.” All in all, I was in a perfect state of comfort.

The next thing I know, my bed is sort of shaking and the thoughts that immediately come to my head are: A) The neighbors upstairs seriously don’t know how to close their damn doors. B) That bitch (my 6-foot-4 roommate, probably still drunk from the night before) fell on his ass. C) I should have listened to my friends when they told me not to buy a bed frame from Ikea. D) I think I’m still drunk myself?!

Yet, as the seconds passed, I realized that I wasn’t disoriented and that my entire room itself was indeed shaking. I decided not to sit there any longer and contemplate if the crack on my ceiling would hold up. I got up, ran to the living room where my roommate was comfortably laying on the couch and talking on the phone.

In a panicked tone, I uttered (quite loudly), “Gurl, there’s an earthquake.” He immediately responded, without moving an inch from the couch with the phone still to his ear, “Gurl I know!” Instinct kicked in and I yelled quite loudly, “Outside! Now!” My roommate got up with a quickness, and out the door we were in three seconds flat.

About 10 seconds into 3:40 p.m., we were both standing outside our complex along with the neighbors from across the street, all looking puzzled, bewildered and slightly alarmed.

It was the weirdest thing to feel the ground underneath move in wave-like motions and hearing the slight rumble under foot. As alarmed as I had been the few seconds before, I had to admit that I was quite excited.

I know how quakes can be very destructive; I’ve read about all the current quakes that have stricken Haiti and Chile and most recently China. Still, there was a sense of awe being able to experience something like it.

Yet, as quickly as the moment came, it quickly went away. And so did that exciting feeling of awe and bewilderment.

I’m pretty informed on earthquake info, so I quickly logged on to the U.S. Geological Survey Web site to check out what was up. I’ve had the website bookmarked since two years ago when I discovered that my former supervisor used to follow earthquakes around the world.

By then I was already aware of all the seismic activity that occurs on a daily basis, so for me it was just a matter of pinpointing where the big quake had happened. After logging on to Facebook (like all of my friends did), I wrote down the discovered information and went on with my day.

Comically enough, it was the topic of conversation for weeks to come and I was quite entertained with what my friends were saying. Some were concerned about being earthquake prepared, others were concerned how the church would use the occurrence of the quake on Easter Sunday to their advantage, while very few of them were contemplating whether or not this whole 2012 deal was quite true.

I tried reminding my friends that we can’t really predict earthquakes, so they can prepare all they want, but it’s really hard to really “prepare” for an earthquake. I left my friend that was concerned with the church alone. I didn’t want to get into another debate about church propaganda and what not. And those with the concern on the whole 2012 deal, I just told them that “the end is near.”

The truth is, I found that I wasn’t concerned about being earthquake ready or the end of days. My concerns lay with bills that need to be paid, homework to be done, work to be finished and video games to be completed.

It took me a while to realize how detached I am from Mother Nature. I’ve never been a big outdoorsy person. A while back, when we had an English assignment to write an essay about being in touch with nature, I wrote about how my type of jungle that I would want to venture in was the “urban jungle.”

I wrote about climbing corporate ladders and traversing busy streets and floods of crowds in a busy city as opposed to natural obstacles such as mountains and rivers. I got an A on it too. Thinking about it now though, I realize how fragile the “urban jungle” can be when facing a natural disaster.

It’s quite scary to think how Mother Nature can easily take all of this away in a blink of an eye. And when all of that is gone, all of that which humans have worked towards, what will there be left?

It’s hard to try to get back to nature when we live busy lives in this fast-paced world. There is no time. I’ve become numb to the natural beauties of nature.

I seek entertainment in mainstream media like music, movies, arts and fashion. There are no trips to Yellowstone or camping trips to Palomar Mountain. And I can’t even remember the last time I went to the beach.

What will we have to work for when our preciously designed “urban jungle” is left in ruins? I hope I never have to find out. Yet, with all the major seismic activity going on in these past couple of months, one can’t help and wonder if it isn’t such a bad idea to be prepared.

Luis Bahena is the City Times opinions editor