Where were you on September 4 2010? This one question will be with all of us for ever. There is a long list of negative words to describe the ordeal and five years on the impact is still wide felt, just this weekend I took down a light shade that tinkled each time we walked past it, unlocking a memory of the aftershocks, and having me still reach for my phone to see how everyone is.
On the flip side this month marks my five year anniversary of leaving my safe, rewarding government job and stepping out into the unknown I was working at one of the welfare centres set up in a high school hall to support East Christchurch in the after math of the 7.1. It was the first big aftershock I had felt at work – it was the Wednesday following. We all scrambled under an old trestle table, I was with a youth who grabbed my hand under the desk. He had been with me at a seminar a few weeks earlier where I dressed up in my PJ’s to show Youth that wearing what you liked was not the best for job interviews, we then did an exercise on following your dreams. As we lay on the wooden floor with the lights waving around, he grabbed my hand as I was shaking “Miss, is this job following your dreams” He was quoting me back what I had taught them about Walt Disney.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” Walt Disney.
I remember hitting my head on the table as I came up and that I inappropriately starting laughing – not because of the earthquakes, but because I knew he was right, I was also chuffed he had listened. Still till this day I can’t remember his name, but he certainly was a piece of the puzzle that led me to do what I love every day. It was a moment that had a big impact.
We forget that technology was not such a big part of our lives. I began using Facebook and Twitter a whole lot more, who knows I might have anyway but I believe that my increase and presence of Social Media helped me not to smoke or drink in the tough times! It was a great distraction and way of keeping connected and communicate with all walks of life. Being awake so much also meant that I googled a lot! If only I had blogged – what wonderful memories I would have to look back on.
I did however find this quote that I discovered the first week of September 2010.
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
It is the mantra that I draw strength from on the hard days, in the beginning I would read it during the long nights when I became afraid of being alone, which eventually became a fear of the dark. In the morning when getting ready to face the day was challenging. It was there for me during the horrific days, the guilt ridden days, the overwhelming days. Now I read it as the balance of our lives is returning, There are days of celebration, days of connectedness and recently Riwai and I both looked at each other and were able to say there are days of elation and happiness.
Over the past year those days have turned into weeks and those weeks are turning into months. We know that soon we will just be people full of happiness that have normal ups and downs. We will be able to say “Yes we were in Christchurch in 2010 & 2011. We survived, We lived through the horror and we gained strength, courage and confidence because of it.
I went to high school for only four years, my tertiary education was scattered over the years and universities. This last five years is the one university I stuck out, until the end! I took all the bad and found good where I least expected. I studied myself through all this turmoil and I learnt an incredible amount of insight into who I am and who I want to be.
Graduation day is not far away, when the good days are more than the tough days and when it happens I am sure Riwai and I will get dressed up and celebrate our graduation from the University of ChchEQC.
We will graduate with a new mantra – The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient and sensitive. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming it
And then a new chapter of my life will begin – because somehow doing all this study on myself I went from celebrating my 37th birthday to somehow being in my 40’s! My wonderful nan did use to say the 40’s are great years! I wonder if she meant the 1940’s or being in my 40’s!
Either way I am ready to take on what ever life brings next!