I Was Spared by Xander Stone
A week ago, I was in my third story apartment preparing to hang a picture on the wall when the earthquake came. It began as an increasingly rumbling movement of the entire building—the floor, the walls, and everything inside my apartment. Feeling my whole world tremble and warble—as if the building was attempting to balance itself upon marbles of varying size—I quickly put down the framed photograph and instinctively grabbed onto the wall myself. At that moment, I felt truly helpless, unsure of what to do, fearing that the entire building would crumble and collapse with me inside it.
The quake lasted awhile, almost a minute—which is a long time when it comes to surfing your living room floor. When it was done, I still did not know what to do. Should I run outside in case a larger quake comes? Am I safe in here? What the hell is happening? I could hear people coming out of their apartments into the hallway just outside my door. They were exclamatory and talkative, but did not appear to be leaving the building. As I am not a California native, this sort of thing is not normal to me. So I just stood there silently in shock, not knowing what to expect.
Within a minute or two, a neighbor-friend came down the hallway and called out my name, asking if I was okay. I opened the door to see her with another neighbor, beer in hand, smiling and chuckling—as if it were all some fun-loving prank they had played upon my Eastern-born innocence. Upon seeing my face aghast, she reassured me that we would be okay, that earthquakes like this happen all the time and I need not worry. Her consolation helped me somewhat.
News reports stated there had been a large earthquake measuring magnitude 7.1 to 7.3 on the Richter scale, just south of the Mexican border near Tecate. Its rumblings had been felt as far as Los Angeles, and it had incurred 2 deaths in Mexico, as well as some slight structural damage to a few buildings. All in all, for such a huge earthquake, no major damage had been done. The conclusion of this story brings me to events that have occurred over the past 24 hours on the other side of the planet—a similar story of an even smaller earthquake, which had much larger and devastating consequences.
In an area of Western China—actually the disenfranchised nation known as Tibet—an earthquake happened, resulting in at least 300 human deaths due to the demolishment of homes and buildings made of mud and wood. Perhaps the report was more poignant for me because I just finished reading a book by the late Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan refugee of the Chinese invasion who spread the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism throughout the world. However, anytime I hear about events of mass destruction, I become both sad and angry.
Recalling how terrified I felt when the earthquake hit Southern California, I imagine the Tibetan people who felt the same terror when their earthquake came, but then actually experienced the literal fragmentation of their world, many of them buried in the rubble of buildings, suffocated to death, helplessly trapped beneath the weight of their homes, which had been their place of safety.
The Tibetans, and the Buddhists in general, have a particular prayer-mantra that they circulate through their minds and hearts. It goes something like this: “May all beings be free of suffering. May all beings be at peace;” I like this particular prayer, as it really has universal implications. It is not just a prayer for oneself or ones’ own concerns. It is a prayer for all sentient, living beings, for all life everywhere upon this planet and, potentially, throughout the universe. It is a prayer of compassion for the well being of all things. As such, it implies a universal unity, a wholeness and acceptance of all life as essentially interrelated.
For those of us living in the Southern California/Mexico border region who felt our world trembling just a week ago; remember we were spared, we have lived while others have not. Remember how fortunate we are just to be alive while others go homeless, their lives shattered. And while remembering, send a little love to those less fortunate folks who have been praying for us our whole lives. Perhaps it’s time we remember them, and pray for the sanctity of our human race, for in essence, we are each other.
Xander Stone is a published writer who has appeared in Adbusters Magazine, Vision Magazine and various online journals such as Reality Sandwich. In addition to creative freelance writing, he enjoys writing academic papers for a number of sources. He is available to help you with whatever kind of writing project you have. (Due to professional reasons, writing services are only for adults 18 or older.)
Xander is completing his first book of social commentary essays, "Human Beings, Technology & The Fate Of The Earth: A Social Critique Of Modern Life." It is his belief that, in this modern era, our chief concern for a global humanity is that of re-evaluating and integrating our industry, technology and capitalism into functional forms that support the recovery and well-being—in all cultures—of our psychology, ecology & spirituality. Visit http://xanderstone.org for more information, writings, and inquiries.