I may offend or disturb some people, but that really isn’t my intention. I have always found natural disasters to be terrifying, but also exciting and enlightening — an awakening from an unconscious state to an intense short-lived glimpse into reality. I have experienced several large earthquakes when I lived in California as well as some violent storms when I resided in Florida. I was terrified, of course, but I also felt like the events had shaken me from a long drowsy state of being that tends to assume our planet is a peaceful place built just for us.
Natural disasters, whether it be an earthquake, a tsunami, a hurricane, a tornado, or a volcanic eruption, reminds us that the planet and the universe is a very chaotic, powerful enigma that continually changes without regard to our existence. Although we have five senses and we have learned a great deal about the nature of the earth and the universe at large, we rarely comprehend what it means. We can’t feel or sense the huge chunks of continents we are standing on move…they are all moving right now. We can’t feel the intense heat at the center of the earth that is driving these continents to move. We can’t feel the earth free-falling through space at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour. We can’t comprehend the enormity and complexity of forces that combine to form a massive energetic hurricane.
The forces of the earth and the universe are obscure to our senses and work on a much grander time scale compared to our internal and man-made clock. We are insulated from what is really going on all around us. It is only now and again, through the terror of a natural disaster, that we get a sense or a glimpse into the power of creation and its counterpart, destruction. One of my favorite photographic subjects in the Northwest is the Cascade volcanoes — Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Baker. These land forms are so impressive relative to the surrounding landscape — they stand out like alien beacons to signal that there is something mysterious at work…a secret…a gateway to comprehending reality. They provide so much majestic beauty — from the towering glaciated peaks, down through the abundant pines, rush rivers that fill up lakes or replenish the ocean. So much wildlife thrives around these imposing giants — yet in an instant, these masses of swelling rock and ice can violently explode and wipe out everything around the perimeter. Incredible powers of creation and destruction, a process that repeats over and over again on earth and throughout the universe — this is a piece of reality.