The Importance of Feeling Earnest

After about a month in Alaska, a very eventful one at that, Grandma Joanne is back home in Virginia. After I put her on the plane to Washington D.C. I heard about the earthquake, which closed the airport there. Fortunately, Grandma Joanne flew right over the shaker and missed the whole thing, landing after all the hullabaloo was over.  I was fretting for hours on my way home from Juneau on the slow ferry, imagining all the places her plane might have to land, and wondering who would help her make the new travel arrangements. She will be 80 on her next birthday, and is quite fit and her senses are all sharp, but still. She is an elder. Turns out my incessant viewing of the AP wire on my iPhone, with all its magical up-to-the-minute updates was time wasted. I could have been reading my book uninterrupted, which ironically is titled Just Breathe Normally. Alaska's Writer Laureate Peggy Shumaker wrote the really good memoir. My friend Ron Scollon used to argue that we don't need instant news of events large or small, he said that educated analysis is preferable to random bits of speculative blather. Ron talked like this in the eighties back before the Internet. Which is not to say it isn't interesting to know that stuff is happening, but at the same time a whole generation may be missing what is really going on around them because they are too distracted by all the clicking and texting. That's what's good about an earthquake. It stops you in your tracks  suddenly, and without warning. As the guy synonymous with preaching about the value of being unplugged and rambling in the wilderness, John Muir said, "It is always interesting to see people in dead earnest, from whatever cause, and earthquakes make everybody earnest." I'm glad nobody was hurt, of course, but I hope a few folks looked up from their iPhones long enough to feel the earth move under their feet, and marvel at the forces of nature that made our planet and shape  our landscape.

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