I have a covered porch on the side of my house where I stack firewood to dry over the summer, ready for burning during the cold winter days. At the moment, there's a pile of kanuka from a tree we removed a while back. It's the perfect spot for my colony of wee lizards who enjoy the heat and sunbathe atop the limbs.
I was sitting out there the other day when I heard some commotion from within the woodpile. I thought, 'That's a mighty big lizard' and I prepared myself for something out of a horror movie, taking on a defensive stance.
Out popped a little ginger head and it was my old mate Mr. Boy from next door. He and his sister Poppy have now discovered my cottage, trekking up all the outdoor stairs to visit and explore what they see as a new and fascinating place.
The unexpected … yesterday was a prime example as northern parts of New Zealand were on high tsunami alert following a swarm of earthquakes, one dangerously close to our East Coast, others to the north east near the Kermadec Islands.
We've had months of the 'unexpected' here … the White Island volcanic eruption, COVID-19, and now this, a reminder that New Zealand is vulnerable to tsunamis and we could well generate one of our own, sitting as we do on the Pacific's volcanic 'ring of fire' (which we had described to us at school as 'the fiery girdle of the Pacific'. Very dramatic).
My first response to Mr. Boy's rustling about in the woodpile was fear and a stab of anxiety - 'What is happening and what will happen to me?' After gathering the facts, it was, 'What do I do about this?' In this case, nothing apart from enjoying my little friend's company for a few minutes until he dashed off for more adventures in the garden.
Yesterday, we had a call to action in the face of a threat and people responded in an orderly, calm way, getting to higher ground to await an 'all clear.' For those of us in Auckland, there was no need to evacuate but everyone in our neighbourhood here kept a weather-eye out, watching the high tide for signs of even higher water and unusual currents.
I woke up this morning thinking, 'what could possibly happen today?'
So far nothing more than a beautiful, calm, and sunny Saturday morning.
Life being what it is, this calm could change in a moment.
We live in a time of uncertainty already, never knowing if the COVID-19 balance will tip into the danger zone while we await our vaccinations against it. Add something else into the mix, whether it's Mr. Boy or an earthquake, then we can tip all too easily into our own emotional danger zones.
I already feel better writing about it because confessing my anxiety about Mr. Boy leaping out of the woodpile and the tsunami (accompanied by screaming alerts on mobile phones, media coverage on TV that could scare the crap out of anyone, plus the incessant wailing of evacuation sirens in areas where the threat of inundation was very real indeed) to the written word.
Seeing my worry laid out in front of me takes some of its power away, helps me to process the feelings and understand my responses.