The following is a post I wrote one year ago. I sat at a computer in Alabama checking the Italian newspaper updates as the horror of the tragedy in L'Aquila unfolded. I reproduce it here as it reminds me of how precious life is.
I am on line reading the unfolding news of the tragedy in Italy. Sleep seems unimportant right now. (Earthquake date in Italy 6 April). Our thoughts and prayers are with all who are affected by this earthquake.
Growing up with earthquakes in the shakey isles I have never been afraid when they strike. People I knew had survived the 1931 earthquake. Pieces of china in my home held the story of this quake. As a child I marvelled that the land we drove over or landed on at the airport was once under the sea. As an adult I enjoy the art decor buildings that the make the new Napier famous worldwide. In 1966 the Gisborne quake left a lasting impression on me, but no lives were lost. in 1968 the Inangahua quake shocked the country, as did the 1987 Edgecombe earthquake which was shallow and destructive and also rocked most of the country. Gisborne suffered again in 2007.
Now, picturing my own little village with its ancient stone houses and its own earthquake history, and remembering the day the local school was closed because of a mild tremor, I view earthquakes differently. The tragedy of 2002 is not so far away. These are not lightly framed wooden schools and houses built to earthquake specifications as our New Zealand buildings are. Italy too lives with the earthquake threats, with higher risk factors with the population and ancient buildings. The history is a long one: the Abbey on Montecassino was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1349. The worst tragedy was as recent as 1980, with a terrible loss of life.
At times like this we are powerless to help those who have been lost. We can only support those who suffer, and take lessons from such tragedies, as nations and as individuals.
We often take life too lightly. Each day it would be great if we woke with the intention to enjoy every moment, to look on the bright side, to leave those we meet feeling better than we found them. Happiness can be contagious, positive energy can inspire.
It is sad that it often takes tragedy to remind us of the good; life is short and not to be wasted. Smile, when you look into the mirror. Dare to do something different. Live a little on the edge, but with excitement, not fear.