Of Limb & Life

Of Limb & Life

The ripple effects of human tragedy reach far beyond land and oceans. We do not need to suffer the immediate consequences of nature’s unforgiving powers to react on a very personal level. On the one hand, we feel compassion for fellow humans who must face a sudden blow to the storyline of their lives; on the other hand, we question how we might respond in similar circumstances.

This, it seems, is the ebb and flow of life’s lessons. We cannot foresee every possible outcome, though I suspect we are getting better at this. What we can do, however, is rely on the creative mind to assess every new situation and decide what might be improved so that the tragedies of today may not repeat in the future.

Last summer, the earth shook right here in Vermont; 5.5 on the Richter scale, felt from Toronto all the way to Maine. This is rather “insignificant” compared to the recent seismic event in Japan and it did not occur to most of us to feel any sort of dread. I sat at my desk, in my office, mesmerized. “Is it just me, or is the building shaking?” I asked a colleague. Twitter and Facebook immediately confirmed the occurrence. It was newsworthy and provided good material for chitchat, but it was not earth chattering by any means. Not this time.

BluEnt CAD, a Drafting and Documentation Company that serves the architecture, engineering & construction industry worldwide, makes the following observation on their website, “Earthquakes don’t destroy life and property, unsafe buildings do.” They add, “Earthquakes, though tragic, also provide the momentum to the process of improvements in seismic design codes and construction practices.”

Nature, it turns out, is a massive structural and engineering experiment. It is not concerned with emotion, fear or loss. It is concerned mainly with transformation, evolution and movement. The trick is to meet nature on its own terms, in the realm of transformation, evolution and movement. The trick is adaptation.

From the paper cuts and headaches of the smallest technological innovations to the frequent loss of limb and life of the greatest improvements to shelter, communication and transportation, we bandage our wounds, honor our dead and persevere. We are pioneers, all of us. Not so much pioneers of history and science as pioneers of life.

Also read: How Well is Your house Built?