Puerto Rico has been experiencing an earthquake swarm since 28-Dec-2019. There was another earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 this morning with the epicenter near Ponce. I checked in with my family and they’re all okay. My family is currently residing in Isabela, which is about a two-hour drive towards the Northwest region of the island from the epicenter. According to my aunt, they finally had both the power and water back in their home to wash their clothes, when they felt the earthquake that occurred this morning. My aunt told me that she was not able to sleep last night because she felt little earthquakes throughout the night. While that could be attributed to post-traumatic stress, her sensations were correct. I checked the seismic activity on the island this morning (Information obtained from Puerto Rico Seismic Network) and there were a series of smaller earthquakes before the 5.9 one this AM. I spent about an hour this morning reading about earthquakes, why Puerto Rico is earthquake and tsunami prone, as well as the history of seismic activity on the island. Last time I spoke to my grandmother she told me of an earthquake that her mother used to to tell her about – the1918 San Fermín earthquake. San Fermín was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that occurred on the northwest part of the island, where my family is from. This 1918 earthquake triggered a tsunami. According to my grandmother, her mother (whom I never met), used to talk about the intensity of damage on the island caused by San Fermín.
My parents live in New York State. This morning while on the phone with my parents, a miracle occurred. I have mentioned on this blog before that I spent my early years trying to convince my parents that there was an Earthly existence. I wanted them to understand that humans have some agency in their daily lives and that everything that happens in our lives is not just because God/Jesus wanted it to. By the time I left home at 17, I gave up on the notion and surrendered all hope that they would ever change. Change is a guaranteed constant. This morning my father, out of all people, spent some time on the phone with me telling me about the documentaries and videos that he’s been watching to understand why Puerto Rico is earthquake prone. He told me about the Puerto Rico Trench as well as the Milwaukee Depth (see The Puerto Rico Trench: Implications for Plate Tectonics and Earthquake and Tsunami Hazards). I had a phone conversation with my father about science. He then went on to talk about the poor infrastructure of the island, with a focus on the electric grid. He also added an interesting point that I hadn’t thought of. “Think about the houses in our community. These houses are mostly built by ourselves – literally by brick and mortar. They’re not necessarily engineered to sustain these types of disasters.” His words took me down memory lane to my early childhood where many weekends were spent on their land where my dad and his uncles would mix cement and water to make mortar and then would lay bricks and mortar down – to build the walls of the structure after the foundation was laid. One of my father’s uncles worked in construction and between all the men in the family, were helping my father build a house. My upbringing literally taught me how to build. Prior to ending the conversation, my father talked about the importance of living right with Jesus. Yet this time, I didn’t mind. Having conversations with my father outside of the context of religious dogma is everything I’ve ever wanted. This is a man that in the past has attributed natural disasters to God’s wrath with his people for allowing abortions or for the population supporting gay rights. This thought process very much reflects his parenting style – I will unleash my rage until you act how you’re supposed to. Progress, no matter how small, is progress (though I think this is HUGE). Prior to bidding my parents goodbye, my mom asked if I had an emergency backpack prepared. “Have at least some cash on you, canned food and water, as well as your important forms of identification. You live in an earthquake prone area.” After our phone call, my mom sent me a Facebook post from the church we used to go to in Puerto Rico when I was little. The post was an announcement asking for donations from the community to “help our brothers and sisters in the south of the island”. The church was planning to send a team down to the South to help the members of a sister church in Guanica and Ponce. Whenever my going gets tough (in my personal day to day), I remember where I come from. Us Puertoricans are resilient as hell.
Things have been rather peaceful on my end. While the world around me seems to be crumbling in a thousand and one ways, I feel rather centered. I’ve been using my centeredness and the current astrology forecast to delve further into shadow work. Hearing family members tone of voice drenched in fear and anxiety, triggers a response within me. I haven’t quite been able to put words to the feelings and sensations, but here’s the best I’ve come up with: an ancestral plea. The past few months, I’ve made more of an effort to speak to my grandmothers to have them talk to me about our history. I want to hear about all the tragedies, traumas, and triumphs that everyone before me lived so that I could be here today.
Observing videos of the Earth element in its unstable form is unsettling for me. This morning, I read a blurb on instagram posted by Jeff Brown that opened with the following: “It is impossible to entirely avoid abrupt endings in our lives. Anything can happen at any time.” He used this sentence in the context of human connection, but when I first read it I thought about it in the context of the Earth. My early life and childhood made it pretty clear that no human connection is forever. I’ve mentioned this on this blog before, but I’ll repeat it again: I believe loss is inherent to the human experience. This is something I accept. I was talking to one of my friends yesterday whom highlighted that it appears that I can both process and grow from trauma at a relatively quick pace. “I feel like when most people experience a loss, they first have to go through the process of accepting that loss is part of the human experience to help them come to terms with their particular situation. It seems like you already operate from the baseline that loss is part of life. You spend less time bargaining with reality – less time trying to find the exception to the truth of loss.” Experience is a great teacher, right? While I can navigate through a lot of losses at what appears to be a rapid pace, there’s an exception, something I can’t wrap my head around: nature in its unstable form.
One of my most vivid memories was watching Hurricane George’s rapid winds snap the palm tree in our backyard in half in 1998. This was the year prior to my parents moving to the mainland US. With my limited lived experience, a younger version of myself drew the following conclusions from an elemental standpoint, : (1) Water can be volatile, (2) Fire can be destructive, (3) Air (in the form of rapid winds) can be violent, (4) Earth is stable, reliable, and can be trusted. At that point, I had seen how water, fire, and air were capable of obliterating my reality. Yet, I observed that regardless of what occurred externally, the earth beneath my feet as well as mountain structures appeared to be nearly untouched, or if so, only minimally affected. Then, I learned about earthquakes. The first time I learned of an earthquake, I experienced terror – Do you mean to tell me that even the earth (element) can crumble? To read more about my thoughts on the dual nature of each of the four elements, refer to Kali: Destruction and Creation.
Nature’s cyclical behavior makes me fearful because it’s the part of the human experience I most cling to. My life could fall apart, but as long as I have the mountains, the ocean, rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, deserts (high and low), everything seems like it will be okay. I perceive Earth, nature to be true reality. Everything else seems like an invention: countries with man-made borders, cultures, economic systems, systems of governance, money, systems that attempt to guide and understand our lived experience (ie. medicine, law, the sciences, etc). Nature, in its many forms, has been a constant in my life regardless of where I have lived. I can’t imagine a reality in which going into nature could potentially be considered wholly unsafe. From my intellectual perspective, impermanence is the ultimate truth. I’ve spent the grand majority of my life trying to find solid ground. Truth is that safety of the utmost certainty cannot be found. True solid ground can only be found in the eternal now – one moment at a time. I’m still in the process of integrating and accepting this one – I like to plan for the long-term. There are times when I feel hopeless because I’m working towards big-picture goals to create stability for myself amidst a very unstable world.
On Christmas day, I spoke to my family in Puerto Rico and told them that it’s my intention to visit them during the last two weeks of 2020. During my last trip to Puerto Rico in 2017, I spent the majority of my time exploring all the beauty the island has to offer: the beaches, the caves, the rainforest, the food, the people, etc. When I return, I plan to still partake in the charm that it offers (it’s not called the island of enchantment just because!), yet I also want to spend an extended amount of time with my elders learning and capturing our history. As I’ve mentioned on here before, Enrique Laguerre, one of Puerto Rico’s most renown writers was one of my family members. My maternal grandmother’s cousin. As this year develops, it’s my intent to read all of his works (see! I don’t set new years resolutions – I let interesting things find me). By the time I land on the island, I want to view it as if his perspective were flowing through my veins. So here I am, listening and responding to the cry of my ancestors.
I’ll close this by sharing a blurb from that came through The Pattern today. (The Pattern is an astrology app that gives you daily general and personal forecasts based on personal birth information entered.)
World Update: Conflict | Jan 11, 2020 – Jan 13, 2020
“The next few days are highlighting a kind of conflict that has been building for the last 5 years; this level of tension hasn’t appeared for nearly 700 years.
It’s becoming more and more clear that the current man-made rules of the world – including laws, hierarchies, and regulations – are going against the organic cycle of life. It’s like the operating manual that has been in place is contradicting the natural order of things.
The underlying energy in unprecedented in our time, and it’s meant to create upheaval and change the established cultural norms. It’s an important moment for transformation to occur, although many people will want to hold on to the old ways of doing things.
You may notice this resistance in your personal life or in world events. It’s like there’s a battle between the powers that want to maintain order and the forces that seek to destroy it. Although this may be an intense time, it’s a necessary moment, because it’s emphasizing the fact that the natural order of things can no longer be ignored.
This time is an opportunity to confront the structure that has been in control. This includes your inner critic as well as designated authorities and people in power in the world. This combination of two very different forces is so powerful that it can create a kind of clarity – where all of humanity can see that things can’t continue in the same way anymore.
During this time, you might ask yourself, “In which areas of my life do I feel hopeless and helpless that anything will change?” and, “What controls me and the world around me in negative ways?” and, “Am I ready to help change the underlying structures that are unfair and create mistrust?”
Ideally, you’ll recognize this moment as a tipping point, where you’re able to identify what needs to radically change in yourself and in the world around you. Open yourself up to the transformation that’s possible now. This time period will last another 3-4 years. “