Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wildcard: One Year On ...

I've pretty much blown my blogging schedule out of the water this week, I know. The reason is that today is a really important day for me and the rest of my city (and, in a way, the rest of my country), and I felt it would be insensitive to myself to not break from routine and mention it. So, you might find this post a little self-indulgent, but bear with me.

22 February 2011. One year ago today was the devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, that claimed the lives of 185 people. I've talked about it a number of times since the conception of Writing Fire, whether it be directly after the event (like here and here) or later on (like here and here).

Today was a day of reflection. I keep thinking about what I was doing this time last year. I remember being so freaked out, and sitting around the table with my family in the dark after the sun had set, with no electricity, listening to the reports on the radio. It felt like we were in a war - which I suppose, in a way, we were. Us against nature.

It's so weird to think that it's been an entire year. In the last twelve months, I've had a ridiculous amount of time off school, I've shovelled silt (sand and water that bubbles up through the cracked ground) out of a number of peoples' yards, moved furniture, and I've gone to school from 1:00PM to 6:00PM. So much of my normal life was affected.

But then, so much went on as usual, too - at least for me. I ran this blog, I kept writing, kept reading, passed my exams, hung out with old people, met new people, experienced the ups and downs of teenage life (don't get me started).

And through everything, normal or not (if that word even has any meaning anymore), Christchurch has pressed on. We're starting out the other side. The journey to recovery has begun - and, yes, it has a long way to go - but it's begun. Things will never be exactly as they were, but different isn't necessarily bad. It just means getting used to a new future, but one that's no less bright than what might have been.

That's what the entire city remembered at 12:51PM today, the time when the quake struck one year ago. Hundreds of thousands of people observed two minutes silences, reflecting on the struggles and triumphs of the past year and looking to the future.

And, as a mark of respect, thousands of road-cones still marking off damaged areas were decorated with flowers. People went out and put roses and all sorts in the top of them, making something beautiful out of a symbol of destruction.

Kia kaha, Christchurch.


  1. Nick, I heard the announcement of the Christchurch earthquake today on 'Sunrise' (Australian morning news) and I silently spent a little time thinking about the devastation and could not believe a year had passed. You have done very well to continue on so positively - my best wishes to you! I visited Christchurch many years ago now and thought at the time what a beautiful city it was. It saddens me to think about the damage to the beautiful buildings and how many lives were impacted by the quake! Keep looking forward!

    1. Thanks C.M. for all the encouragement. Will do!

  2. Indeed, it is amazing what an act of nature can do in the span of one minute to an entire nation. I live in Japan and we're coming up on March 11th ourselves, and we're still in the midst of cleaning up Tohoku and searching for radiation in our food. In my company we had students who perished on that day (although all employees survived.) As somebody who comes from the west coast of the USA I've been prepared for the inevitable quakes all my life, and it seems like they've dropped on us in all one go. (Indeed, I believe they were related?)

    And it's amazing how quickly people will come together, set aside their differences and focus on helping everyone survive. I also love the flowers in the cones as it shows that, like you said, people try to find beauty and solace in destruction.

    1. Absolutely, it's incredible how much damage can be dealt in such a short space of time. And, yes, since the earthquakes started in Christchurch in September 2010, it's seemed like everyone's been having them! It's strange.

      The other side of the coin is, as you say, how quickly people come together, how everyone gets alongside each other. It's amazing to see the love and companionship that came as a result of the events.

      Take care of yourself where you are :)

  3. Hi Nick, I'm stopping by from the Fantasy group at the Campaign!

    I can't imagine what it must have been like for you a year ago. I remember hearing about it on the news, and then as my part of the world (Oklahoma in the United States) started experiencing an abnormal amount of earthquakes, it was like everything was turned upside down. Our earthquakes weren't nearly as bad as the one you guys had.

    But going through something like that really teaches us what we're capable of, what our priorities are. That's also when we realize we truly are born to be writers - when we write through anything.

    I hope you have a much better year!

  4. I impressed by your reflection on that event. Very impressed.

  5. It's unbelievable that an entire year has passed. So much has happened, yet there's still so far to go.

    Very thoughtful, insightful reflection. :)

  6. Not self-indulgent at all. It's important that people remember that the rebuilding is still happening.

    A lovely, thoughtful, post Nick. Thank you.

  7. I really love that picture, flowers in the road cones--it reminds me of how beautifully we as people can handle such destruction.


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