Thursday, June 24, 2010


So there I was, minding my own business, sitting at my desk on the 10th floor of an office building, when lo and behold, the building starts to shake. I don't know about you, but the last thing I want a building to do when I'm 10 floors up is rattle around like it's made of jello. This lasted about 20 or 30 seconds, or so we were told later on the news. It felt like an eternity.

There's currently construction going on in the underground parking garage of said building so I initially thought someone on the crew had royally screwed up and the building was comin' down. It's only when we saw crowds of people streaming out of neighboring office buildings that we realized it wasn't just us. Then calls from loved ones came in. Apparently, the whole city felt it. Turns out it was a 5.0 magnitude earthquake.

Seismic activity is not uncommon in the Ottawa area but quakes registering in the "moderate" category are a rare occurrence. It was a frightful experience to say the least. I was strangely immobile as it happened, staring out the window, thinking "This can't be happening. I don't want to die today and certainly not like this." My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. Then it stopped.

My co-workers and I congregated in the hallway, trying to make sense of what just happened, still feeling quite skittish. Being on the 10th floor of a high-rise is not a place you want to be during an earthquake. I just kept wondering how the hell we could get out without getting crushed, even though that concern was unwarranted in this case, since the quake wasn't  severe enough to cause any damage. Thank God.

If anything, the whole experience was incredibly humbling. It brought into sharp focus the fact that we have no control over external events in our lives. We can only control our reactions. It was also a reminder to savour every single moment because it could all end in one unexpected instant. 

These types of events bring me into my dark places, into the things I fear most. I have a terrible fear of dying. I don't know, maybe everyone does, to varying degrees. Anything that reminds me that waking up in the morning and getting through the day alive is a f*cking miracle kicks me out of my comfort zone, and I don't much care for that. 

On a more humorous note, some Taiwanese tourists were interviewed on the news yesterday evening, and they were asked what they thought of the quake. They weren't perturbed in the least. Apparently, this kind of thing happens two or three times a month in their country. It was a great reminder not to take things too seriously, and that brought me back to my happy place.

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