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When the Earth Shakes

I’m not usually scared of earthquakes. After all, in my home country -Mexico- they are so common I find it pointless to be scared of them. Whether you are scared of them or not they will keep happening so you might as well get used to it and learn to remain calm. But on September 7th, there was an earthquake the likes of which I had never felt before.

Despite the fact that it was almost midnight, I wasn’t sleeping. I was reading, as I usually am at that hour. I heard the siren at once and that dreadful male voice repeating over and over: Alerta sísmica… Alerta sísmica… which basically means: Get moving, there’s an earthquake going on!

I felt the shaking at once, it wasn’t very strong. It felt like any other earthquake. So I just rolled my eyes and got out of bed, annoyed but not scared… yet. I found my sister in the hallway. A word about my sister: she freaks out whenever there’s an earthquake, no matter how small or short. She hates them! She gets scared out of her mind! It’s a phobia for her.

So we did what she always does when there’s an earthquake: we went to my mother’s room. Unlike my sister, my mom isn’t scared of earthquakes at all. She says she enjoys the slow moving of the ground, that it lulls her as if Mother Earth was rocking us all, back and forth, back and forth. I’m somewhere in between them. I don’t get scared like my sister and I sometimes do enjoy the movement but I’m always hoping it ends soon.

We get to my mother’s room and she’s just there lying on her bed without a care in the world. My sister goes straight into her arms and starts breathing heavily. “Shh, shhh… it’s all right. It will be over soon. There’s nothing to fear”, my mom tells her in a soothing voice but my sister’s freaking out. The movement gets stronger. The whole apartment is rocking now back and forth, the little bells in the doorway ringing like crazy.

“Mom… Mom… ” My sister’s heart is racing, I can feel it as I rub her back. And I feel my own heart accelerating too, so does the movement. It gets stronger.

“Hey, look at me!” My mother says to me, she can see I’m about to lose it too. “It’s all right, it’s going to be over soon. Don’t be afraid!”

But her words are no good this time. It’s not stopping, it’s only getting stronger. I can hear people shouting from the streets, I want to go to the window and see what’s going on but I’m afraid to move. Maybe we should run for it. But we are four stories above ground, we would never make it down the stairs with this horrible shaking. Besides, then what? We are surrounded by buildings, there’s no place to run. If this place falls down we are going down with it. I start to panic. I imagine the building crashing down on us, burying us in the ground. Mom reaches out for me, trying to hold me too like she’s doing my sister but I can’t stay put. That only makes the movement feel stronger. I start to pace around the room.

“Please… God… Please… Make it stop… It has to stop… “

The shutters in my mother’s bedroom smack against the windows, the crystal rattling. This has lasted too long, too long. They say that an earthquake is all the more dangerous when it lasts for a long time, that in the end, that’s what makes buildings fall down. This one has gone on forever.

I close my eyes and try to settle my breathing. A friend of mine had recently shown me how to ground myself. She made me picture roots coming out of my feet, stretching underground and anchoring me to the center of the Earth. That’s what I do now. I imagine roots coming out of me, out of my mother and my sister and out of the whole building, strong roots stretching underground and reaching the center of the Earth, holding us in place, holding us steady, anchoring us. The movement subsides. I open my eyes and realise the room isn’t moving that much anymore. It is slowing down, now it feels like a normal earthquake. I reach for my mother.

“It’s stopping now”, she says to my sister. “See? It’s over”.

The bad thing about living in an apartment is that even after the earthquake is over, the whole building keeps shaking. It takes some time for it to stop moving. But eventually it did, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. My sister burst out in tears and I tried to steady my hands which would not stop shaking, my whole body was trembling.

My phone rang and the messages started coming in, friends and family asking if we were all right. Social media was full of comments about how strong the earthquake had been and how people thought this was really the end. I couldn’t blame them. For a moment, I thought it was too.

People were jumpy all through the next day, and there were many replicas, some of them so small nobody felt them, some others uncomfortably long but nothing like that first big one. The one on Thursday had been the strongest one there’s been in Mexico in the last hundred years. However, we were all surprised (and relieved) that there wasn’t much damage in Mexico City.

In 1985, there had been an earthquake in Guerrero, with a magnitude of 8.1 which devastated Mexico City. Many buildings fell down, thousands of people lost their lives and others had to be rescued from under the rubble. Since then people expect the worst from earthquakes and the people who lived through it still think of it as a traumatic event.

Nevertheless, this earthquake which had a magnitude of 8.2 didn’t have the same devastating effects. Not a single building fell down and there weren’t many people injured in Mexico City – oh you know, the occasional panicky person who fell down the stairs trying to run away and twisted her ankle, or the man who ended up in the hospital after a lamp fell on him… but nothing too horrible. Not in the capital, at least. The states of Oaxaca and Chiapas (where the epicenter was), that’s another story. Houses fell down, people died or were left destitute of their home or livelihood.

I know earthquakes are natural phenomena but still, with all that’s happening around the world -the hurricanes, the tsunamis, the floods… I cannot help but think that it is impossible to deny the effects of climate change and our involvement in it. I think the Earth is shouting at the top of her lungs, in every way she can: Stop it, humans!

The message is clear: We need to change our ways and take better care of our planet. We have been living at its expense for too long.

Also, it’s important to consider the power of our collective consciousness. Every human has powers of creation and manifestation at their disposal, those tools are our thoughts, our words and, most powerful of all, our actions. We might not think that every thought we think is relevant or powerful enough to change anything. But that’s wrong. Thoughts have power. There’s no such thing as an innocent thought. Everything you think has the power to call things into being, that’s why we need to monitor our mind and not let it run rampant. It’s more powerful than we think, and when two people or more think the same way, that power multiplies. So if every human being on the planet goes: This is the end, we are going to die!

Uh-oh. Then we are in trouble.

We co-create this reality. We think it into being. So be careful what you think. Also with your words. If you’re going to speak or write, let your words be full of hope and positivity and love. Words have power and you never know who might be listening.

And finally, your actions. It goes without saying that your actions have power and you can use that power to make a change for the better.

All in all, we are powerful beings, strong enough to create the reality we live every day of our lives. We can’t let fear into our mind, I know that’s easier said than done but it’s important to remember that fear also has power. Like attracts like. What you fear, you manifest. It’s as simple as that. That’s why it is so important to monitor ourselves. Our thoughts, words and actions have power so we have to MIND them.

Let each thought you think, each word you speak and each and every one of your actions call into being a better reality, a better world. I know it’s sometimes hard to think that one person can make a difference, but we are never really alone in our way of thinking. There are people all over the world who think the same way as we do and if we decide to change our ways for the better… well, it’s only a matter of time before we change our world.

And yes, “you may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”.

His words, not mine.