Okay, so I don't mean to be inappropriate but this morning the ongoing FUBAR situation that is the news from Japan finally just made me...pop. (too soon? yeah, probably still too soon.) But really, although I no longer live there, really only lived there for a short while, Japan was a place where I learned a lot of things about myself and the thought of what is going on there is really gut clenching. As far as I know MY friends are safe, but so many others are not, and I've begun to feel what I think a lot people who care about the world feel- completely useless, helpless to help except by donations by text. (Which by the way, I DO encourage if you can.) I feel guilty somehow that I'm not in the trenches, that I'm not in Japan in the wind and the rain. And because I'm selfish, some part of me wonders how they're feeling- almost wishing I could feel it, like a parasite- because those people are living life, and feeling pain, but because they're people (not just Japanese with their reputations for endurance but people) they will rebuild, because this is what we do. So, yes, selfishly I would like to feel, personally, a little of their resolve. Yesterday, I got to take a hot shower, and eat and go to work- telling stories to little kids...and I'll do it again today. While I was reminded in emails from my Japanese co-workers that the students I left behind are supposed to graduate in April, (and while I sent my congratulations) I have no idea if they really will. The Japanese are a stoic people but how do you get the rhythms of a normal life going again in the literal wake of a tsunami, an earthquake, and our worst nightmare, a nuclear scare? Will there be cherry blossoms this spring, and a Closing ceremony? If there is, more important, where will my kids go? I lived on an island which fortunately appears to have been unaffected (by the weather at least), but an entire generation of students will be traumatized by these events- will change their life paths because of them. Many of them dreamed of leaving the island at graduation, some going to college, some going to Tokyo to work where they would have conversations with gai-jin and maybe use some of the English I taught them. If they ever get to Tokyo now, it will be nothing like their dreams. I feel very much a foreigner now, so far apart from a place that was for a while my home, where I had moments of peace, and which, if I ever visit again in memory or reality, will never be the same. The cherry blossom season should be starting soon for this year, but all I can see are images of snow in Akita, falling over bent over oba-chans (grandmothers) already inspecting their damaged homes and lives to see where the rebuilding will begin. I can't be there because my life is here. I can't be everywhere in the world where there is hurt and hunger right now. All I can give is money, and time in thought. All I can send is love and prayers. I hope it will be enough. It will have to be enough.
to donate money to the American Red Cross for victims of the Japan tsunami and earthquake, visit www.midfloridaredcross.org.
Or, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.