Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up and feel that the room is shaking around you? Not a violent trembling, you understand, just the thinnest of tremors, subcutaneous, as though your bed were the flank of some great animal, quivering in exhaustion.
In moments like these you look to objects for verification. Are they shaking too? For a moment it's hard to tell. You manage to imagine that there is a real earthquake happening. Suddenly the walls seem to close in on you, the ceiling becomes your enemy. You jump out of bed. As your feet touch the icy stillness of the floor you realise that there is no earthquake. The world is perfectly still. It is all in your head.
Could it be that fear, like some seismic force, lies at the very centre of all existence? Could it be that our lives, so solid-seeming, exist only on a thin fault-line of hope? Or is this purely physical? Some coincidence of muscle and bone that leaves you shivering like a leaf?
IT was not death, for I stood up,
And all the dead lie down;
It was not night, for all the bells
Put out their tongues, for noon.
It was not frost, for on my flesh
I felt siroccos crawl,—
Nor fire, for just my marble feet
Could keep a chancel cool.
And yet it tasted like them all;
The figures I have seen
Set orderly, for burial,
Reminded me of mine,
As if my life were shaven
And fitted to a frame,
And could not breathe without a key;
And ’t was like midnight, some,
When everything that ticked has stopped,
And space stares, all around,
Or grisly frosts, first autumn morns,
Repeal the beating ground.
But most like chaos,—stopless, cool,—
Without a chance or spar,
Or even a report of land
To justify despair.
So much for imagined earthquakes. For real ones, there's Mastercard. And links to organisations you can give to here and here.