A worried reader recently asked me, Exactly how do you define “cataclysm?” How will I know one when I see one?
Good question. You don’t want to pull out your cataclysm kit and run for the hills if you only have a disaster on your hands, not a full-fledged cataclysm.
It may help to think of a cataclysm as part of a continuum of troubles that runs from everyday trials and tribulations to an outright nobody-but-the cockroaches-survive apocalypse.
In between, you have your misadventure, disaster and your cataclysm.
Think of it in terms of survival. Most people will survive their tribulations (bad hair day) and the ordinary misadventure (US Air Flight 1549). In this day and age most people even survive a disaster. A cataclysm, not so much.
But the best-stocked cataclysm survival kit won’t help you in the case of the apocalypse.
Next time something bad befalls you, or you read about some crisis or other in the news, try to place it on this continuum. As you do it more and more, you’ll start to get the hang of things.