Immersion

For the past week I’ve been swimming in a new life: a new job, a new routine, a new environment.

I flew to Nashville, Tennessee (USA) for a whirlwind tour of a shopping mall that flooded over a year ago. It’s now spotlessly clean – and empty. The space cries tears of longing for people to meander its floors again.

I’m struck by the parallel:

My life suddenly submerged in a new manifestation, and this building (and city) rising from submersion.

Inundation pervades.

Whenever I begin a new design project, I research the history and culture of the area, in hopes that knowledge will lend a deeper understanding of the people the building will serve.

I learned that Tennessee knows floods.

From a geological standpoint, middle Tennessee is in a basin: newer (but still about 500 million years old) sedimentary rock where dinosaurs swam. Basins should expect to receive water. But the residents don’t see it that way. They still strive to make sense of their memories of an inundation that changed their lives.

The area has known great upheaval, and now I join the many, dreaming to rebuild dreams.

Here’s a quote from Geoworld.org:

In the northwest corner of the state, Reelfoot Lake was formed by the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812. One eyewitness recalled the spectacle:

“Groves of trees disappeared and fissures in the earth vomited forth sand water . . . the atmosphere was so saturated with sulphurous vapors as to cause total darkness; trees cracked and fell into the roaring Mississippi.”

Some people said the Mississippi River flowed backward three days to fill the 45-square-mile basin that was formed. Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge now occupies part of the basin. Geologists say another major earthquake can be expected in the early twentieth century.

How about that…

When it rains, it pours; when the earth heaves, it often floods.

Flooding bestows fertile plains.

Yes, life is good.

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