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.
For more information on the changes that are taking place with The Milford Haven Novels, please read my newsletter. If you have not subscribed, visit www.MaraPurl.com to have my newsletter sent to your mailbox every month.