Not sure if it made the news in the States, but yesterday there was a significant earthquake in Iran.
It was big enough we could feel it here in Dubai. Not surprising, really. We’re right across the Persian Gulf from the Iranian coast, comparable in rough terms to Cleveland being across Lake Erie from Detroit.
Whole office buildings cleared out in some areas here, as people ran into the streets. Things stayed fairly calm here in my hotel, which is to say some of us walked outside.
No real damage here, but a real tragedy across the water. Buncha homes destroyed, 4-6 dead (reports vary), dozens injured, more to come.
Now, something incredibly obvious, but I’ll say it nonetheless. It’s just a weird thing about human experience. I’ve seen earthquakes in Iran and elsewhere on TV before. And you feel for the victims and send a few bucks and stuff, but it always seems so far away. You kinda have to map their tragedy onto something you can understand, and when you haven’t been somewhere, you have to work a lot harder. But when your own butt shakes in the same quake, that’s a different thing. So now, even though I’ve never been there, earthquakes in Iran will always feel a little more real and human. But the next time a quake whaps Sichuan, China, maybe not, still. Until I’ve been there.
Sometimes people ask: why travel so much? That’s why. You get your butt shook sometimes. You get hugged sometimes. You get a flower from a kid, or you get a dirty look from an old lady, or you fall off of something, or you get stuck in the rain. Sometimes you make a new friend, sometimes a really good one. But whatever happens, that part of the world gets more real, and you get a little more connected to it.
There’s a real selfishness involved, of course — even if all of your experiences are somehow only of giving and helping others, you’re still getting. It could easily degenerate into high-end solipsism, unless you really make an effort, and even then it still might.
Part of that effort is doing stuff like this. It’s a tiny part, but it’s still important. And if you want to help, too, with the relatively small quake yesterday, pick “Disaster relief emergency fund” but “Where most needed” might be an even better option.
PS I’m writing this from a hotel room with a view of the Burj Dubai, which will be roughly a half-mile tall when it’s done. And we just had a tremor that was scary from the 10th floor. Oh, man.