Mental Earthquakes


More than the title of our blog, “Aha!” represents a sort of earthquake of the mind. Suddenly, without warning and with some energy, a concept seems to burst forth into the daylight of consciousness. Of course, what is not obvious is that this “Aha!” has been brewing over hours, days, months, maybe years or longer.

At the border between two of earth’s tectonic plates friction between two moving land masses causes heat that is usually dissipated via volcanism and sudden movement (earthquake). In some areas, the friction is lower than it is in other areas due to several factors, including lubrication in the form of water and sand between massive bedrock slabs. In these areas, earthquakes are usually quite small and more frequent.

In other areas where there is much less lubricant, massive bedrock slabs grind away at each other, generating huge amounts of static energy. Friction builds to the point of non-movement – until enough pent-up static energy in the form of pressure releases, overcomes the obstacle and the plates suddenly move a large distance all at once. Earthquake!

Mental Earthquakes!

Sometimes my life seems to work this way. I’ll go for months just as smooth as smooth can be – feeling like life is just “going my way.” Yes, there are little glitches along the way, but I ignore them and refocus quickly on the task at hand and they seem to go away and I’m left feeling like “all is well.”

Then, without apparent warning, it feels like the earth moves – it’s a mental earthquake in which “all hell breaks loose!” By “hell” I mean fighting, arguing – a distinct sense of disconnection – followed by a new reality, a new sense of balance. This might take the form of a short yet heated argument and/or escalate into a total disconnect like divorce. I might also experience an “Aha!” moment.

Regardless of the mental earthquake’s intensity, I am always different afterwards. And the process resets for the next time…

“I didn’t see that coming!”

…is my normal response as I get to work clearing my mental streets of debris and rallying rescue teams to search for survivors. In the aftermath of an earthquake of the mind, I’m left to react to it. And wonder…

Could I have better predicted and prepared for the earthquake? Sure, Japan has set an awesome example of how to prepare. Yet, in 2011, those amazing preparations were overwhelmed by the unthinkable – a magnitude 9+ earthquake. Sure, they fared better than the Indonesians did just a few years before. Yet and still, I saw whole Japanese cities wiped off the map.

Even had they known when the earthquake would have occurred, they were ill prepared for what actually happened. Preparation and even adequate warning just don’t seem to be enough to prevent massive and catastrophic harm to humanity from these forces of nature.

What about prevention, then?!!

Taking my metaphor of the earth’s quake zones, I can see that lubricated earthquake zones, though more frequently active, are nonetheless far safer for habitation than are those areas where larger earthquakes have occurred far less frequently.

What might happen were I to relieve the pressure now and then? Seismologists have suggested this very idea for right here in the Pacific Northwest. They wonder what might happen were we to drill down between tectonic plates and insert lubricant (sand and water in this case) to force slippage or maybe detonate tiny (by comparison) explosives to shake the plates enough to relieve the immense pressure building over time.

Metaphorically, could I use some mental lubrication or explosive to release the pressures building up in my “earthquake-prone” mind? If so, what might that look like?

In our next post, we’ll discuss Mental Earthquake Prevention – how and where one might apply mental lubrication or explosives as a preventative measure.

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