the collapse

A severe storm stirred the River Ru into agitation while the people of the Henan province desperately tried to keep the Banqiao Dam from crumbling from the combined power of the river and the storm.

“The blare of the dam burst sounded like the sky was collapsing and the earth was cracking.”

At around 1:00am, the citizens enjoyed a few moments of peace as the skies settled into a mellow calm—until a great sound emerged around them: “The blare of the dam burst sounded like the sky was collapsing and the earth was cracking (x),” a survivor recalled. Despite their best efforts, one of their worst fears turned into reality right before their eyes—River Ru had finally broken through the dam; “The equivalent of 280,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools burst through the crumbling dam, taking with it entire towns and as many as 171,000 lives (x).”

As I read about this tragedy, I was reminded of a scene from 2012. A man, who was part of the discovery of the upcoming deadly storms, was promised that he and his family were going to be saved from the tsunami that was quickly on its way. However, the team that was to retrieve him and his family did not arrive in time. In this scene, we’re shown how the man and his family accept their unfortunate situation as a large tidal wave rushes toward them.

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Both the collapse of the Banqiao Dam and the tidal wave scene from 2012 reminded me of a conversation I had with one of my best friends yesterday. We talked about our failures, our hopes, our dreams, our expectations, our feelings of being astray.

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As we continued on with our conversation, I was struck by a sense of impending doom: It felt as if the ground I was standing on was pulled from under me. It felt as if an elephant was sitting on my chest. It felt as if “the sky was collapsing and the earth was cracking (x).” It felt as if the tidal wave from 2012 was barreling towards me.

I couldn’t breathe because I knew what she was feeling and understood her. I understood her sadness and her troubles not in the way that she might understand them completely, but I understood her nonetheless.

I am torn at how people can feel so alone and lost, and at times, so hopeless. Despite the fact that they/you know that there are people who care about them/you, there are always those moments where they/you can’t help but to feel… alone, to put it in a simple way.

Sometimes, we can’t help feeling as if we’re the River Ru… and sometimes, we can’t help feeling as if we were about to burst as the Banqiao Dam did.

Sometimes, we can’t help feeling what we feel—whether it be loneliness, sadness, happiness, anger, envy, etc.  Sometimes, we can’t help feeling like we’re being spun in circles, round and round, even more lost than we were before. Sometimes, we can’t help feeling that bout of anger or jealousy or anxiety for reasons we can’t name. Sometimes, we can’t help feeling as if we’re the River Ru… and sometimes, we can’t help feeling as if we were about to burst as the Banqiao Dam did.

Sometimes, we do burst.

Hundreds of thousands suffered from the tragedy of the Banqiao Dam, and even hundreds upon hundreds of thousands were affected by its collapse. After the tragedy, authorities began to look into the technology and the architecture used to build the dam to find the technical causes of the collapse. Many began to rebuild and reestablish their lives, taking more precautions with the knowledge that this might happen again. Despite how much everyone had lost, their homes, their loved ones, their lives, life went on. It goes on.

This is how life is, and though it may be hard to accept this, it’s okay. It’s okay because we’ll be able to weather the storms that are rained upon us with and in some cases, without, the help of those around us. And if we don’t, if we never do, that’s okay too.

When the dam bursts, when the tidal wave passes, there will be something left.

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