Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Was It Just Me?

Earthquake on the east coastWell, I suppose there’s no avoiding placing this post in the category titled “The Rumble.”

Yes, I felt the earthquake yesterday. Was at home working on the laptop, when suddenly it seemed like the couch was weirdly wiggling underneath me. Lasted just a few seconds, but it was long enough for me to get up and look around confusedly.

Not sure what I was looking for, really. I suppose I thought I might see my cat banging around at the end of the couch or something, not that she -- at less than ten pounds -- could ever move such a big piece of furniture like that. I sat back down and returned to my writing, but soon saw the Twitter messages and realized what must have happened.

I ended up checking in with all of my family members yesterday to see if they’d felt the quake as well. And I assume I’ll probably be talking with others today about it, each of us sharing our distinct experiences. There are much more important items, weather-wise, for us all to be concerned about, that hurricane currently heading toward the east coast the most obvious one at the moment. But the uniqueness of the event, an earthquake with an epicenter here on the east coast, necessarily got all of our attentions.

I realized later in the day that one of the more interesting aspects of the whole event was the way most of us initially experienced it individually, then quickly sought out confirmation from others regarding what we had felt. The fact is, many of us had never experienced an earthquake before. (Vera and I have spent time in California, but neither of us could recall ever being there for any sort of earthquake, even a small one.) So it was a natural response, I think, to ask each other what the heck just happened. And perhaps to make a bit more of it than our friends out west laughingly thought was warranted.

Of course, for a lot of us that response followed an initial, more private one. I’m talking about that bit of self-questioning. Or self-doubt, first causing us to ask ourselves “Was it just me?”

Existentialists point out how we all make what we will of our experiences. For many of us, having some sort of corroboration with others about what we believe we are seeing and experiencing is a big part of the way we make that meaning. But it all starts with the self, with the individual.

Poker exemplifies this idea with every single hand. Each player, the dealer, and anyone who happens to be watching experience what happens differently. A kind of “consensus” comes with the awarding of a pot, one might say. And while everyone may, in a sense, come to a kind of additional agreement about the “meaning” of it all -- e.g., judgments about how well or poorly those involved played their hands -- each player ultimately comes away with his or her own idea of what happened, perhaps influenced by others’ ideas, perhaps not.

Not so much ambiguity with an earthquake, though. Funny how a natural phenomenon involving the further rupturing of the planet’s faults -- in other words, a tearing apart -- necessarily serves to bring people together.

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2 Comments:

Blogger PokerLawyer said...

Funny how great minds think alike - you and Seth Godin! He had an eerily similar reaction on his blog, too, here.

8/25/2011 10:20 AM  
Blogger Nik Faldo said...

The earthquake in Washington DC was caused by our Founding Fathers and war veterans turning over in their graves.

9/03/2011 10:17 AM  

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