I was startled awake to my entire world shaking. Living at the top of a high-rise, I felt like a bird being rattled out of its nest by a being greater than itself. The wrought iron panel that normally leans against my wall, was rattling and falling forward. The hanging lamps across the room did an interpretive dance all their own. My first thought, that of my baby birds as I stumbled down the hall to their bedrooms. One was awake and terribly afraid. The other fast asleep in his innocence. The building swayed to and fro as I made my way back, shaken to my very core and still in a state of confusion. The steady ground I took for granted had been pulled right out from under me. We had just experienced an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4.
This Puerto Rico quake comes almost exactly 4 years after a powerful 7.0-magnitude quake devastated another Caribbean island – Haiti.The 2010 disaster took more than 100,000 lives.
As I lay my head back on my pillow, still shaken, but so very grateful to be okay, I couldn’t help but think of the wake up call these moments are in life. Our lives are much like the Etch A Sketch of our younger years, at the mercy of some greater force, natural or otherwise.
“The toy can be considered a simplified version of a plotter. The inside surface of the glass screen is coated with aluminium powder which is then scraped off by a movable stylus, leaving a dark line on the light gray screen. The stylus is controlled by the two large knobs, one of which moves it vertically and the other horizontally; turning both knobs simultaneously creates diagonal lines. To erase the picture, the artist turns the toy upside down and shakes it. Doing this causes polystyrene beads to smooth out and re-coat the inside surface of the screen with aluminum powder. The “black” line merely exposes the darkness inside the toy. Filling in large “black” areas will allow enough light through to expose parts of the interior.” – Wikipedia
As kids we spent so much time, focused on getting the picture to look a certain way. We would concentrate so hard on making the lines perfectly straight and the end result one we would be happy to present to the world, but only after we had erased any flaws and forgotten all mistakes. As adults we carry on much the same way, with the belief that the final Etch A Sketch masterpiece of our life should scream perfection before we let those around us see it. We grip those white little knobs for dear life, refusing to give up control, believing we alone decide which direction the next line will be drawn. In our ego centric state, we have no doubt we control our destiny.
And yet, in one swift move, with a shake here and a rattle there, it can all disappear. Worse yet…the Etch a Sketch we worked so hard to create, can suddenly look a whole lot different than what we ever imagined.
Maybe it’s time to start looking outside the confines of the Etch A Sketch and start living outside the box we have limited ourselves to…there’s a whole world out there full of possibilities to explore. Show the world your flaws. Its response may shake you up in ways you never imagined!