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    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Life is certainly slowing down.

    It's been three weeks since the 4th largest earthquake in recorded history struck Japan. That number still boggles me. What boggles more is that it feels as if it's been months since March 11th. Travelling is such a wonderful opportunity, but I think we'd all agree it is much more enjoyable when the circumstances aren't what they were. We were in 3 countries over a span of two and a half weeks. As if we were on the run.

    To an extent, I suppose we were.

    Country-hopping had its perks, I won't lie. Room service, beach play, relaxing as a family of four, dining on local food, exploring new islands and cities, learning local history...all perks and wonderful ones.

    That said, I am so happy to be home with my family. No more running. Life is returning to normal, and there is this exhaustion beginning to creep in now that it is. Or maybe it's relief?

    I will opt for relief. Relief we have a home to return to. Relief that we're not ordering room service and eating out. We get to sleep in our own beds, read our books, walk through familiar streets. There's relief that life in Tokyo has returned to normal. I feel relief that we have good food, drinks, and water to take in and give to our family. There's relief that when I slip and speak in Japanese I won't get strange looks in return. I can breathe deeply in relief knowing air quality in Tokyo is fine. We can walk and play, shop and spend time outside in the gorgeous weather we've been experiencing.

    With the exception of one or two people, everyone in our circle of friends are back in the country and back to work.

    There is such peace in what we usually think of as mundane.

    But I still feel a deep pain for the people in Sendai and the Miyagi Prefecture. We now know it will take months for what is happening in Fukushima to be resolved-and that's with short term issues. Long term issues...my heart breaks further for the people in the North.

    And then I become humbled; moved when I see the people who have truly suffered from this catastrophe and how they are handling the situation. They live their lives as they did before the earthquake: with dignity, respect for one another, thinking of the person next to them before considering themselves. I'm from New Orleans, and though I wasn't there for Katrina, my parents were, as were many friends. We all know what happened there, and I continue to get emails or messages asking how there isn't mass rioting and general melee.

    One of my friends, Meg, is Japanese American with family still here. She perfectly summed up just why things remain so calm. To borrow from her blog: "The media and people in the US have been so surprised that there is no looting in Japan. It's plain and simple - it's part of our culture. Japanese people respect each other and generally have high morals. We are taught to "love our neighbors" and not be selfish. I pray for the people of Japan and praise them for their strong will. I kind of wish I was there in Japan - I would really love to volunteer at the shelters and make a difference for the people in need..." via Tokyo, Houston, and Everything In Between.

    It's funny, because I remember being taught the Golden Rule. I also remember being taught in my American school to do unto others, to love our neighbors. But when disaster strikes, you would not see in America what you are seeing here~at least not immediately. It's very sad. I love my home country, don't misunderstand. I love it. And I know there are good people with even greater intentions, but in the media, they would be overshadowed by the negative elements that would take advantage of a situation like this. Because we are boggled by people who don't. And God forbid if the media is boggled.

    The respect I have for Japanese culture has grown in leaps and bounds as I see how selfless they are when surrounded by the most dire of circumstances.

    I'm not talking about TEPCO or the government, just the people~the ones who will help rebuild northern Japan (where they can). The ones who choose not to loot, to not harm others or take advantage of them. The people who really live by that Golden Rule and will continue to abide by it no matter what. They are people of faith and conscience. You cannot help but admire them.

    In any case, we're home, routines are being reestablished, and as we start to go about our days, I think the reality of what happened is sinking in a bit more. Now that we're here and not going from one location to the next, there's time to stop and think, to absorb and reflect.

    And there's quite a lot to absorb and reflect upon.

    I know the media has pushed Japan to the side now that the initial excitement is over. But things here are not over. It's still ongoing, and in some cases, just beginning. Please continue to give if you can, pray for the people and the country. I once wrote that the earthquake and tsunami would have a ripple effect and they most definitely have. The ripples are many and in some cases, will continue for years.

    Please remember Japan.

    Please enjoy the mundane.

    Please remember the Golden Rule.

    Please don't worry, I'll be back with something a bit more uplifting very soon.

    3 Responses to “

    JMW said...

    I think of you and your family often, as well as all of those in Japan. Everyday on NPR, there are updates on the recovery. I, too, have been so impressed with how people have handeled this tragedy and have heard similar sentiments to what your friend Meg said. Sending prayers to Japan - may God bless one and all.

    Suburban Princess said...

    I am so relieved to hear you are home safe and sound.

    We could all learn a thing or two from the Japanese.

    Kerri said...

    The media makes me ill. Truly.