I grew up in Tokyo. All my friends who still live there are safe. But they’re dealing with a frightening scenario, and are emotionally crushed by the devastation to their north.
I remember the first time an earthquake struck while my family and I were first getting settled, staying in a Tokyo hotel. I watched out our upper-story window, fascinated, as the other wing of the hotel swayed back and forth, while I tried to keep my balance. But that was the last time I was unprepared. Throughout my childhood, there were frequent drills both at home and at school. People in Japan are probably the best earthquake-prepared in the world.
For most of my adult life I’ve lived on the other edge of the Pacific Rim, in Los Angeles. When the 1994 Northridge Quake hit, it was a far different experience from those I remembered from my childhood. It lasted four times longer; objects in my apartment bulleted through the air; with a sudden loss of power, water, and phone service, we were all plunged into darkness and isolation. Most people weren’t prepared at all.
Many writers experience a kind of prescience as they work, and I’m no exception. In the prologue of my upcoming novel What the Heart Knows, my journalist character is about to embark for Tokyo where she’ll be doing seismic research.
Because my Women’s Fiction novels are written on two levels—the literal, and the symbolic—when I wrote a novel called Nobody’s Fault, I looked at the metaphors connected to earthquakes. Who’s to blame when an earthquake happens? No one. So we can absolve everyone of guilt, whether it’s ourselves or those in Japan, or New Zealand, Haiti or Chile. When seismic adjustments don’t happen for a long time, energy gets pent. Are we doing the same thing ourselves, allowing frustration or judgement or accusation to build up within us? We can release these feelings without detonation. How? Through forgiveness. Maybe we can take a moment to forgive faults—in ourselves, in others, and in Mother Earth. Maybe this will open our thought to find ways of helping those in earthquake zones who could really use it just now.
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I, too, have been reflecting and wondering over the past year or so if Mother Earth is perhaps talking to us. The devastation in Japan is overwhelming. Hope and prayer for their safety is going to them from all over. I like your idea of forgiveness of faults. Positive energy is just as powerful as negative. Love, understanding and compassion can go a long way in restoring peace and happiness in humanity and in Mother Earth. I like your thinking and you blog. Best wishes, fp
I too am sending positive, healing, strengthening thoughts to the people of Japan, and to their islands. The fault is apparently in the fault line, and no one can control that, so no one can be blamed. I’m glad they are so prepared, although how one can prepare for a disaster of that magnitude, followed by a tsunami, isn’t clear to me. I hope that Mother Earth can forgive us for all we’ve done to her, and stop trying to rid herself of us before we destroy what we have with pollution and construction and extinction of other species! My dog is an Akita, and they come from the cold, snowy, long-wintery parts of Japan; when I look at her, I pray not just for the people, but also the four-footed and winged inhabitants of Japan. Blessings. (And beautifully written post, Mara!) Lori Orser