Monday, March 14, 2011

Shaking The Trees

hardship is what causes ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

well, it's been a long weekend.

As everyone knows, Northern Japan got hit with the largest earthquake in Japanese history on Friday, and aftershocks, tsunami, nuclear power reactor explosions, food/gas/electrical shortages have ensued.

I was at home with the dog when all this started. In short order our family was together, and we spent the rest of the weekend watching the news as word of the devastation continued to spread, and the chain of events continues to play itself out in front of our eyes. Here are my takeaways as of Monday morning:

1) Quakes
It's Japan. There are earthquakes. I have been through many quakes since I got here in 1991, but this was truly the biggest and scariest of all. Panic doesn't help much. All you can do is try to get somewhere safer (under a table, etc.) and wait it out. and Hope.

I don't believe there is any completely safe place on Earth anymore, so to me leaving Japan doesn't help much. My colors don't run. Never have, never will.

2) Dying
I know I will die. It is up to me to choose how I live until then. As long as I can be with my family, I will go when it is my time. We have been together throughout, which is all I can ask for. If this is the end, lay me to rest in Yokohama. This is my home.

I am happier here than any other place I have ever been.

I am happier now than at any other time in my life so far.


At 44, I have beaten the odds many times already, and have been in a lot of hard places that I managed to get out of. I am determined and resourceful. I usually find a way, if a way can be found. I am confident in my ability to lead my family and survive/endure whatever comes our way.

I give my friends and family all the love I have, and if it is my time to die, I will face it with open eyes, open mind, and an open heart. I am grateful for my life, for all I have seen and done, for my family and the support of my friends.

3) Some Hardships, how hard are they really?
Now we enter a time of power rationing, gas rationing, food shortages, and other inconveniences. This could go on for a long time. How hard? I am not bothered.

There are so many dead, so many more who have lost their families, their homes, cars, livelihoods - everything. I have no right to complain about sharing the burden with them.
We can endure whatever must be endured to support them. Our hearts go out to them and are filled with sadness at their loss.

What has happened to us so far is a minor inconvenience compared to REAL HARDSHIP which is a daily aspect of life in much of the world. It is time to show how tough we can be. So far this is not so bad.

Everyone needs to develop a proper sense of perspective and let go of the illusion of entitlement. Realize how lucky we are.

In much of the world there is poor sanitation, no electrical infrastructure, no medical care system, no clean water, no public transport or education, no opportunity. Now is our turn to endure just a tiny taste of what most of those people have to face EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES. Buckle up and stand strong. Don't be a p*ssy. It could be so much worse.

Even in our parents and grandparents' generations they faced hardships like this constantly and overcame them through focus, determination, and courage. How can we be expected to do any less?

4) Power Down
Bring it on. I need electricity a lot less than I would have thought. I can cook without electricity. I don't really watch television anyway. I have plenty of books to read. I like my PC (and posting to my blog) but it is a luxury I can easily forego. My family is here with me. Not too worried.

5) No gas, no trains
Sucks if you have to try to commute to work. I don't right now. I can stay here in Yokohama happily for as long as is necessary. I can walk anywhere I need to go. Not too worried.

6) Japan
This is an amazing country filled with amazing people. Since I was 14 I have never lost my lifetime love affair with Japan and with the Japanese people.
They possess an indomitable spirit and community that cannot be broken by nature and will not be broken by this. This country will endure. These people will continue. My family and I will not leave.

Courage is the unbreakable will of the ordinary person under extreme circumstances. Under fire, we all do what we must. More courageous still is the slow, methodical rebuilding of the country in wake of devastation. Japan has already experienced this in the post-war period. A whole generation sacrificed to rebuild. We will do the same as needed to make this country whole again. This is an opportunity to show what our generation can really accomplish. This is our time.

The government has done a good job in a hard time. Now we must all do our part, too. No panic, no fear. One step at a time until we are stronger than before. That is real courage. We have it. It is time to show it. Together.

7) Martial Arts
Our training gives us the mental strength and determination to overcome any hardship and endure any suffering. We learn to overcome fear and find "right action in the moment without hesitation." We are taught to respect and preserve all life. We are taught to accept our place as part of the natural world and order - no better or worse than anyone or anything else. For me, this is my religion. Make your beliefs guide your actions and do not compromise. This is what we were trained for. These tests are the fires that forge the steel of our souls.

In Closing
This morning, the sun is shining and it is warm on my face.
My wife and children are with me. We are alive and healthy.
I don't need much more than that.

See you soon. hang in there.

1 comment:

Seamus White said...

John -

None of what you wrote suprizes me. You are a warrior in all aspects. Moreso, an honorable one.

Your friend,