One interesting aspect of our life in an active lava flow is the differences in perceptions as to what, exactly, is happening here.
In the short term, we know that after several weeks of lava pouring down the mountain and towards our community, the flow has now slowed to a crawl just above any civilization. Both the town of Pahoa and Highway 130, which were each given only a few days to live, seem as busy and vibrant as ever. There is little sign of the stress and downright panic that was so obvious just a couple of weeks ago.
What I find interesting is the differences in perception as to what this recent change means to the big picture.
Some folks are confident that our troubles are over. They hear the same Civil Defense message day after day saying there has been no lava advancement and no one is threatened, so they conclude that the event is over.
Other folks here believe nothing at all has changed and that it isn't 'if' but 'when' the lava will bury our community.
The truth is none of us have a crystal ball so we really can't know for sure what will happen. Therefore it is really just speculation - albeit it educated speculation on the part of many.
But my observation is to WHY there are these two different schools of thought. How can the same set of circumstances cause such differences in thinking?
My theory is that it is cultural. Those of us that grew up on the Mainland are used to Natural Disasters. In fact, many of us consider ourselves experts in them, having perhaps survived a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake. When we find ourselves faced with a new natural Disaster, we naturally dig into our prior experiences for help in understanding what we should expect or do. I think this is where our brains go haywire. Our experiences with Natural Disasters tells us that they are 'events' that have a clear ending. After the wind or rain stops, or the room stops shaking, you dust yourself off and move on. So our prior experiences are telling us that now that the lava is slowed to a halt, and we aren't hearing much about it anymore, this event MUST be over now.
I've noticed that it is mostly the folks that have lived here all their life that are saying 'not so fast' . They have lived with this natural disaster for most or all of their lives. To them this is not an 'event', it is a way of life. They have seen this particular flow slow or stop many, many times over it's 31 years. But it's always there, oozing somewhere in the background. Those that lived through the slow death of Kalapana talk about how the lava seemed to stop a dozen or more times, sometimes for months at a time, before finally engulfing the entire area. So these folks call the current slow-down of the lava 'of little significance to the big picture'.
As for me? I'm right in the middle - as usual. I'm going to cling to the hope that somehow this really is over. But I'm also going to listen to the wise Kapuna and be prepared for the worst in case it isn't over. Really, no matter if born here or a transplant, that's about all any of us can do.
That's all for today.
PS - In the context of 'life goes on' - we still gotta make a living here! Please check out our new products on our www.hoppersart.com website! How about showing your support for Puna by buying a PUNA STRONG hat?