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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Disaster and Real Life

This weekend I had planned to write a post about rejection. But then the earthquake and tsunami happened, and it no longer seemed like it was appropriate to write about feeling bad after getting a letter of rejection from a literary journal. It feels somehow wrong to be thinking, let alone writing, about anything other than the disaster and the people up north who are suffering so terribly, including the family of my sister-in-law, who have lost their home, although they were lucky to be evacuated in time from their deluged city of Sendai.

But I haven’t got anything to write about the earthquake or its aftermath. You are likely getting your information the same way I am, from media outlets, and probably know as much as I do, if not more. (I usually get news from CNN or AP on the internet before (sometimes hours before) it is presented on Japanese news). And I am still in shock to the point of not having anything to add in way of reflections on the events. And so I feel rendered speechless.

For awhile I was rendered actionless too, unable to move away from the television. But trying to find ways to contact family and friends in the danger zones, to help, to donate, and to conserve energy (as the government here has asked us to do, so that they can divert as much energy from this area to up north as possible) has allowed me to feel like it I have activities that are morally defensible in the face of tragedy. But I must also somehow come to feel like living my life, affirming it by continuing with my usual activities, is also an appropriate response to tragedy. For the sake of my children, at least, I must find a way to believe this. And I will, with time.

Time, as always, will be the solution, although it is also almost always the problem. In this case I guess you would say the problem is more one of space-time. Or space-space. My sons asked me this morning why the earth hated people so much as to do this to them, so we talked about how the earth has always had earthquakes, even before there were people here to make records of them (though the planet makes her own records), and that there will be earthquakes long after people are gone. We concluded that earthquakes have nothing to do with people at all. They are just a fact of this planet’s construction, nothing to take personally. But sometimes it’s hard not to take it personally. Which is partly what I was going to say about rejection letters too. And so I have circled back to my originally intended topic, back to my usual life, and I feel about this both guilty and …… I’m not sure what.

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