I've been waiting to give some response on Japan.  It's not that I don't acknowledge this unimaginable disaster and the outrageously horrific effect it has had on thousands of Japanese people and their families and their lives.  Not to mention the effects this massive event has had on the earth and it's axis, it's air, it's water, it's placement of land masses (!!!).

I think it's just that I don't really have much of the ability to grasp such things.  I can't even begin to imagine this type of catastrophe and it's effects on civilization and creation together.  It's not that I am a completely non-empathetic asshole (or I hope I'm not), I just think there is only so far true empathy can go.  I've experienced hardships, yes, but nothing compares to the gravity of this situation.  I cannot begin to imagine what it feels like to have your home swept away before your eyes, or your family killed by the earth, or your country in such a state of unrest, where it affects everyone, no matter the distance from the event.

I suppose the closest I've come to that was 9/11, and yes, no one will forget where they were and what they were doing the moment that happened.  We were scared, we were vulnerable, we were panicked and running for our lives to the nearest gas station or grocery store, pulling our kids from schools, declaring war on the first people that said anything remotely derogatory toward us.  We were shocked and we all felt personally affected by the tragedy.  And we all of the sudden loved our neighbors and felt compelled to stand up for everyone and stand in solidarity as Americans.

NY Times

I'm obviously rambling here.  My point is that I personally feel nothing but grief and unquantifiable amounts of sorrow for the people of Japan.  And I also realize that I have no idea what they are going through.  And I also realize that I am so very lucky and so very blessed.  And I also realize the great brevity of life and it's immaculate frailty.  And I realize that my response is limited except to say that I am overcome with humility.  How precious is life.

The Epileptic Imperial Wizard vs. End of Days

Which brings me to this unwaveringly flattering image of a strapping young man I know who is living in Japan.  He is teaching in the Nagano province (notice it's placement on the above map) and recently sent us an e-mail update of his well-being.

His e-mail contained an essay, essentially a short story, about his earthquake/tsunami/nuclear emergency experiences in Japan.  It also is a breathtaking account of an American's viewpoint of the tragedy and the sheer grace of Japan and how they are handling it.  It is moving and hilarious and tragic and honest.

I am linking to the document here and hope you will take the time to read it.  It will take about 10-15 minutes if you sit and read it all the way through and I highly recommend it.  He prefaced his account in the e-mail with the following directions to us and I will pass them on to you:

"1) This is a whole new level of long. Like don't bother bringing it to the toilet because no one poops for that long level of long. 

2) I think I use the word "Jap" on an occasion or two. It is, obviously, completely non-derogatory. It just fits/sounds better and I think its stupid that it necessarily has negative connotations anyway. The phrase "japanese person" is just cumbersome. I am well on my way to reclaiming "jap" for all japanese people, whether they like it or not." 

All of this being said, I think it's important to iterate the fact that as small as we all may feel in times of global crisis like this, there are small ways that we can make a difference.  Donate to a number of different global organizations initiating efforts in Japan or purchase goods where the proceeds go directly to aid Japan.  Or pray, or sit and ponder, or go out and help your neighbor, or think, or just send some light and love and good energy into the atmosphere.  

By reading this piece by my friend, I felt a little more connected and little more able to open myself up to continuing to imagine the seriousness of this situation and continuing to try and be as empathetic and compassionate as possible.  I hope you'll read this, I hope it will do the same for you.


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