Mt. Agung – You’re not in Kansas anymore!


Image result for minnesota images

Image result for minnesota prairie images

I grew up with prairies, forests, and the sky-blue lakes of northern Minnesota. The earth under my feet didn’t move. Ski hills were hills. They didn’t erupt. My nervous system calibrated to this solid certainty and made assumptions.

I’d heard of The Ring of Fire – first when the scratchy voice of Johnny Cash made the song popular – and later when the Science Museum in St. Paul brought the reality of volcanoes and earthquakes to the tundra.

The IMAX film produced by the museum introduced a different world. I watched mountains spewing fire, their molten guts dribbling down like icing on a cake. I remember the shiver of terror and the thought that followed: why would anyone live there? And yet, fascination gripped me. For weeks afterwards I felt a bit off-kilter and walked around humming, “I fell into a burning ring of fire,” under my breath.

Fate takes interesting twists. Was that day a foreshadowing of things to come? Now I live in Indonesia. This nation has the most volcanoes and earthquakes of any other place in the world. I’ve transplanted my Midwestern beliefs about solid ground to a country that shivers and belches daily. What was I thinking?

For the past week, Mt. Agung, 25 miles from my home in Ubud, has been threatening to blow. There’s a side of me that has gone untested until now. I’ve never faced a looming natural disaster. Ever. In northern Minnesota the worst we had were blizzards. Roads closed, 4 – 10 foot snowdrifts piled up, and school was cancelled. Yippeee!

Image result for minnesota cars buried in snow

Waiting on Mt. Agung is different energy. With every tremor, adrenalin floods my system. I have caffeine jitters though I haven’t touched coffee for months. And there’s an overwhelming helplessness that triggers people in different ways. Some get angry. Some rush out to stock up on food, water, flashlights. Some spring into action organizing shelters, collecting donations, working round the clock. Some cry.

I haven’t gotten angry, and I haven’t cried. But I’ve worried, and I’ve haunted the news channels as well as Twitter, Facebook, and the Indonesian government sites that dole out information in careful bites. Through it all, I’ve realized how little I’ve changed. Something in me needs to know, needs to suss out every factoid and warning. In the U.S. we get used to 24/7 reporting when disaster strikes. We expect to be fed a non-stop diet of fear and distress as stories repeat and images burn their indelible imprints on our retinas.

There’s a better way – I’m sure of it – a kinder way. Somewhere between getting ready, and having done everything I can do, there must be a quiet place in the mind to go and wait. There must be an off switch that allows silence from the clamoring voices and peace in the midst of uncertainty. In the interest of self-preservation, I’m determined to get there. The well-being of my Midwestern nervous system depends on it!



8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sageblessings
    Oct 01, 2017 @ 22:37:18

    I love this Sherry. Daily I watch for news and wait (but not with the sharp sensitivity of those of you living there) for word and keep hoping all the prayers and offerings will quiet Agung.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. gigicullins
    Oct 01, 2017 @ 22:37:29

    Keeping you in prayers for protection.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. wedgroup, Nellie
    Oct 02, 2017 @ 00:02:54

    I get it, living in hurricane alley and just living with Irma. For a week the gov’nor told us we were going to die. Prepare and release. That’s all you can do. And try not to feed the fear.



  4. freud17
    Oct 20, 2017 @ 21:24:39

    Sherry, I love your writing! I also write for Sixty and Me and I always look forward to your articles. I like what you say and how you say it! Do you have any workshops coming up in Bali? I would love to come. Also, wondering if you have grandchildren and how you manage those relationships from far. I just became a follower of your blog



    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Oct 20, 2017 @ 21:56:19

      Thank you for reading my articles and responding so positively. I have a granddaughter (1 1/2) in Manhattan, NY, and my youngest daughter is expecting twin boys in January. I read your article on Grandmothers and really appreciated the breadth you allowed that role. I was there within hours of the birth of my granddaughter (who came 3 weeks early) and spent 6 weeks with them. I will go for the birth of the twins also, and will be there at least 6 weeks getting to know them before going back to Bali. I skype with my granddaughter several times a week and visit in person at least once a year. It sounds like you have a beautiful relationship with your grandchildren and have access to them regularly. As with all things in life, one size does not fit all!

      I do one-on-one intensive Writing for Self-Discovery coaching for those who seek me out here in Bali. Being able to focus 100% of my attention on one person and give immediate feedback is the form I prefer. A woman from Australia showed up literally at my door one day, unannounced, and wanted to learn the techniques. That was fun! Are you planning a trip here in the near future?



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