Saturday, March 10
In Tohoku, the people who were swept away were still alive a year ago on this day. They were still laughing and playing and working and worrying and though there had been a strong earthquake, they lived. They were oblivious that March 10th was to be their last day alive so they went about their normal routine, a series of busy nothings and somethings.
As do we all. It is an inescapable aspect of our human nature. Though we know on some level that eventually we all have a March 10th, such knowledge is too heavy to carry around at the front of our minds day by day. All we can collectively do is to remember the loss and the survivors, and to include ourselves in the latter group.
I will never forget the afternoon of March 11th. The morning is gone, March 10th has evaporated as well. All I have of that day is the memory of that long earthquake, that felt more like being rocked aboard a ship than being shaken. Then calling Jason and checking that everybody was okay. Laughing that the boys were too involved with their Legos to notice the biggest earthquake of their lives. Then going back into the office and watching the news as the tsunami rolled in, wave after wave, and changed Japan forever.
On March 10th, the nuclear reactors at Fukushima were chugging along just like everyone else. The global debate about nuclear energy hadn't been ignited by what will probably turn out to be the worst nuclear accident in history. The push for green energy had not become a regular aspect of the international conversation. The silver lining, so to speak.
A year ago there were hundreds of people who were miserable and didn't realize it until the tsunami. March 11th served as a much needed wake up call for them. People took action: instead of waiting for their lives to get better, they made their lives better. And most of them did so by answering the call for help, either in the disaster zone or elsewhere. When faced with our mortality, our vision clears and we can see what really matters in this existence: kindness, togetherness, compassion.
There is a balance to everything, even tragedies. What was taken away was also given, though perhaps on a deeper, more subtle level.
In celebration of what was given, and in tribute to what we lost last year, tomorrow will be spent offline, together and grateful.
And if you haven't seen this yet, please watch this to get a better sense of the balance as seen through the eyes of these down-to-earth elementary school students: