March 15, 2011

I always have something to say.

I perpetually find myself looking to tease some obscure lesson out of a situation, or working to unearth an unexamined layer. There is almost always something there.

But as I watch the situation unfold in Japan, I find I have nothing to contribute. The scale of what is going on is simply larger than my capacity for comprehension. And while this is partially a testament to my personal need for more experience, I have a feeling it wouldn’t be much easier to understand if I were standing amidst the wreckage in Natori or in a control room at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant.

Our little brains can only handle so much. Often more than we think, but occasions do arise when they simply are no match for the magnitude of what the world is capable of throwing at us.

And very occasionally, the world decides to give it everything it’s got.

These are moments when we feel we are absolutely fighting for our lives. And when we escape with life intact but survey the damage, it still feels like a loss.

We can prepare and plan and act with caution, but ultimately there’s not a damned thing you can do about a 20-foot wall of water headed your way.

I wish I knew how this “should” affect my life. Affect the world. Once again, I want to find the lesson. That lesson may require a wait though… it may be in the reaction to the moment, not the moment itself.

We’re a people, not simply a world of persons. And as much as we are each beautifully unique individuals, every one of us is a very small part of everyone else.

Ultimately we move on. Time passes, which is both searingly painful and a sweet relief. We keep living. The world continues turning.

Again, I have nothing of real value to give. Money, sure. But I can’t cool the reactors, search through wreckage, or soothe a panicked and desperate soul. I have only feelings. Woefully inadequate feelings. Sorrow, fear, devastation, empathy… a million unnameable sensations. But one of those is the absolute confidence that the Japanese people and the people of this earth will find they have the capacity to overcome, move on, and thrive.

American Red Cross
Doctors Without Borders

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