A few years ago I took a class called Natural Disasters, and no, it wasn’t a self-help course in case you were wondering. The intention of the class was to understand how natural disasters occur. It was an interesting experience if not extremely harrowing. We learned that if on a beach say near America Soma, and the ocean suddenly retreats, run! We were advised not to build a house along the California coast because you are basically building a house on quicksand.
The class learned about spotting landslides, old and reoccurring. We came to understand that every jagged peak along the Wasatch Mountains is a diagram of potential disasters. We learned that cracks in the sidewalk could mean more harm than the superstition of breaking a mother’s back if stepping on one.
During the course, we were told about every region’s disaster, however, very little information as to what to do about it.
I’m a doodler—it’s a concentration practice as well as a stress reliever. While I’m listening to someone speak, I draw landscapes in ballpoint pen to help me focus on what they’re saying. I did this well before taking this Natural Disasters class, but by the end of it, sketching was no longer a reprieve from my anxiety. Now, instead of gentle mountain slopes, I saw erosion. Instead of rolling hills, I noted fault lines.
I tried sketching just grasses and trees growing out of the sturdy dirt but then thought, what’s the point? Flood or liquefaction will just suck them underground.
It was good for me to take the class and to understand the environment in which I live. However, the beauty of the landscape changed to nothing but death traps.
At the end of the course my, teacher asked what each of us learned after taking the class. No one said anything. After a long stretch of uncomfortable silence, I raised my hand and said, “We learned that it doesn’t matter where you live, Mother Nature is going to get you.” He didn’t think it was funny, and really, neither did I.
Although I’m more knowledgeable about natural occurrences, this information now plagues me. The beauty that once held stress reduction, now only induces it, making me think that sometimes, maybe ignorance is bliss? If it’s not, don’t tell me, I really don’t want to know!