A monster named Ike roared over Galveston in the night, and in the morning, everything was gone. The sand spit had returned to its original status with almost no trace of the population that had partied all this summer. News channels now describe the calamity as “apocalyptic” and, indeed, “the End of the World” does seem like a very appropriate appellation. It certainly was the end of life as many citizens there knew it, though the future of the area is anybody’s guess right now.
Every one of us can imagine the shell-shock we would feel to return to a place we thought we knew well and to find it a completely different landscape…maybe more like a moonscape. We all would walk about like the blind, hardly registering the implications.
Weirdly, those unfortunate Texans have become a symbol of the shock that millions of Americans, still safe in their well-appointed homes, are registering today after a different sort of a monstor roared across their own lives in the dark of the night. Would you name that monster Lehman, or just plain Collapse? In the raw light of dawn, jobs, bank accounts, stocks, companies, secure futures, college plans…have all been obliterated. Yesterday, they existed. Today, they do not.
Those of us watching from afar, wonder what the shakedown will be and if, and how, this tragedy will spread its tenacles to places that we have always thought of as enclaves of safety. “Is this a malignant cancer?” we ask ourselves with trepidation? “Probably,” comes the echo within our own skull as we look around at familiar surroundings with new eyes, suddenly stripped of blinders. And that simple basic question repeats in our quaking heart, “Will it spread to me?”
But what about those millions of Americans who have just had a double sucker-punch, here in the middle of a lovely September, when back to school and football games are usually front and center? They have lost all of the above if their home was dismantled by water and their finances just went up in smoke because of simultaneous, but unrelated, calamities? Everything that once appeared solid has proved to be a chimera, instead. The dream life became a nightmare while they were sleeping.
That crazy old professor was right. Remember, the one who refused to take off his snowshoes, even in the house? He had seen too far into reality and understood that the molecules were actually not connected to each other but moved loosely around inside of matter. So, he was afraid of falling through. Everyone believed that he was crazy.
I think that, today, a Texan would understand the way he felt.