Dealing with Uncertainty

When I wrote my last post a few days ago, Mt. Agung was still just a stately presence, the highest, holiest mountain in Bali and home to Besakih, the mother temple. Right now, as I keyed in that sentence, another tremor rattled my windows and shook the floor. Holy Mt. Agung is trembling, threatening, poised to erupt – or not.

Not even the most expert of the experts can predict when, or even if an eruption will happen. They cannot foretell the explosive strength if it does blow. But over 50,000 people have been moved out of their homes on the slopes and in surrounding villages because they would not survive if…

I’m in Ubud. We’re told that here we’re far enough away. I think that’s supposed to make us feel better. The streets are teeming with visitors, more people than I’ve ever seen in this town before. They’re shopping, laughing, packing the many restaurants, and going about life as usual.

But I live here, and for me, this is not life as usual. Time hangs between tremors – between news flashes – between numbers, 3 for be careful, 4 for beware. We’re at 4, the highest these warning numbers go. I know many families that aren’t evacuating. Ketut’s is one of them. They live 10 kilometers from Agung. A 7.5 kilometer distance is the mandatory evacuation zone. I worry.

I have never had to psychologically manage such uncertainty before. It’s a helpless feeling. I’m a ‘doer’ and there is nothing I can do to change the situation. I like to imagine that I have control over my environment. I have none. Mother Nature is in charge. Meanwhile, we wait.

 

 

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19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joan
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 21:49:12

    I know this feeling. I just moved to southwest Oregon where the threat of west coast earthquake prevails. But I chose to live with kids on a farm close to nephews and take my chance. I choose quality over quantity in the final decision!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Sep 26, 2017 @ 22:12:47

      That’s the thing, isn’t it, Joan? No matter where we are on the planet there is the probability of something happening beyond our control. We’re so fortunate when we have choices. Right now there are thousands of people in Bali who have chosen to abandon everything they have in the world and sit in a shelter or a tent, or the back of a truck, with no idea if they will ever return home. But life itself, stripped of all trappings, is more important than anything else. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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  2. bobbideg
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 22:35:25

    Thinking of you….the hard part is there is nothing you can do, can’t imagine losing everything , but if you and your loved ones are ok, that is everything! Good Luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Sep 27, 2017 @ 09:21:41

      Yes, personal well-being and the well-being of loved ones, is huge. I’m grateful to have loved ones on several continents! So far, we’re all safe, but I think safety is an illusion. We’re only as safe as we think we are, until we aren’t. And that can happen in the blink of an eye anywhere in the world. I really appreciate your concern. Thank you!

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  3. Kate
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 02:45:03

    Are you considering leaving for a bit and joining your family in the States while Mother Nature decides the fate of many? There is no “abandoning” of the place you love, it just might make sense for now. Some don’t have the resources or a place to go – it’s just a thought. Having had friends and family in each of the areas that have been hit but hurricanes; earthquakes and fires it is my first thought…. please keep yourself safe – whatever that means to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Nancy Leatzow
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 02:56:37

    The Mother Temple! Ketut’s family! Thank you for keeping us updated, Sherry.
    Although, it’s a waiting game! Prayers!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Oct 11, 2017 @ 14:19:19

      You wrote that on September 27th and it’s now October 11th. Only a few things have changed: the numbers of evacuees has swelled to over 100,000 in shelters around the island, and the tremors I feel in Ubud are far fewer, some days none at all. But the Beware levl is still at 4, the highest, and nobody knows what the outcome will be. Will Agung erupt or go quietly back to sleep? I read recently that humans don’t do well with uncertainty. This human doesn’t!

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  5. Gail Orgias
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 03:12:06

    Thoughts are with you – it must be extremely worrying & also for your family who live out of Bali – it is the uncertainty and inability to control Mother nature that makes us realise how vulnerable we are.

    Have enjoyed reading your posts for sometime now – am not sure how I even got on the subscription list (!).

    Much of what you have written has resonated – although we live in different parts of the world. I know Bali having visited some years ago – it is a beautiful place – but especially remember its people as one of the most gentle, gracious & contented.

    Do hope that you & your friends keep safe,

    every best wish,

    Gail

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Oct 11, 2017 @ 14:32:27

      Hi Gail,
      Thank you for responding to my post. My family is worried, even though I’m in what they are calling a safe zone. But the tremors have decreased here in Ubud and things feel more stable. That’s probably an illusion, but I’ll take whatever I can get by way of good news right now!

      Yes, the people of Bali are gems and their kindness is the thing that hooked me when I first came here. In the West we’re so independent, out to save ourselves at whatever the cost. Bali has the opposite mindset. The communal culture works for the common good and a person alone is someone to be pitied. They’ve finally stopped feeling sorry for me, but they watched me closely at first, offered to produce companionship for me in the shape of a widowed uncle or make me someone’s second wife. I successfully escaped those unhappy fates!

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  6. judybaliju
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 07:38:53

    Hi Sherry how come Ketut’s family is not evacuating if they are so close to the volcano? Also if it all gets too much for you I have a spare room here in Australia.
    I’ll be away from 22nd October to 13th November but other than that I’m here. It’s a huge big worry I know. Love to you and Ketut. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Sep 27, 2017 @ 09:13:45

      You’re so sweet Judy! Thank you for your offer. Ketut’s family lives on the neighboring Mt. Batur and their village is just outside the immediate danger zone…whatever that means. There is a shelter in the Kintamani Geopark Museum, a few miles from them but it’s full. I’m thrilled to say that last night, Ketut and his wife and daughter came here. But there are still dozens of family members in AbangSongan who haven’t left.

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  7. Donna
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 18:06:10

    Did not know this was going on….sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own little safe world ….ahhhh me me me…..may you all be safe…my sincere thoughts are with all of you….

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Sep 27, 2017 @ 20:31:26

      Thank you, Donna. We all have our frame of reference – the geography close to our hearts – and are somewhat oblivious to what goes on beyond those borders. I am equally guilty. I appreciate your wishes for us here in Bali. Mt. Agung still holds at #4 AWAS – beware – and rumbles.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Sep 27, 2017 @ 20:31:26

      Thank you, Donna. We all have our frame of reference – the geography close to our hearts – and are somewhat oblivious to what goes on beyond those borders. I am equally guilty. I appreciate your wishes for us here in Bali. Mt. Agung still holds at #4 AWAS – beware – and rumbles.

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  8. Cindy Siemens
    Oct 02, 2017 @ 02:55:50

    I’m booked to got to Bali and Alor in two weeks. I’m spending hours searching for bits and pieces of information and comparing it to Mt St Helens experience. Your piece is very well written and comes to my heart. I’m used to earthquakes. Dealing with volcanic ash is more difficult than people realize who haven’t been through it. Tourism board is concerned that the evacuations are scaring off the tourists. Then reports say only 10% have cancelled their plans. I can only have concern and compassion. The airport will be closed. Please take care of your lungs wearing a tight mask or scarf. Dust comes in the openings and it’s like glass going into your body. Friends with asthma, have your medications available. None will be flown in for a couple of weeks. Have plenty of clean water. I wish you all the best.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Oct 02, 2017 @ 10:11:41

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments! The biggest problem with Mt. Agung is the lack of information from the eruption in 1963. This may be normal activity for a ‘letting off steam’ period without resulting in an eruption. Nobody knows. The Balinese people are matter-of-fact: If it erupts it will improve life for future generations. If not, okay for now. Their whole culture is for the common good – not for self-interest. But precautions are being taken and information abounds about what to do with large amounts of ash. Trees are being cut down near power lines and vines that have crept along power lines are being removed. Masks sold out early but more have been carted in so everyone should have them. Here in Ubud, tremors have stopped for about 48 hours. The mountain is still trembling but they’re not as strong so we can’t feel them here. It must be frustrating to have travel plans right now. The winds are in the direction of the ocean for a few more weeks so if there is an eruption and ash is spewed, it shouldn’t affect the airport yet. But the seasons are changing and wind direction will shift. I’m hoping for the best for you and all of us!

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  9. gumersindo
    Oct 11, 2017 @ 12:16:57

    .
    Much of what you get written has resonated

    Like

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