Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hurt, Shaken, Numb



I’ve been knocked off center since viewing  Internet video of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.


I have felt a special affinity for Japan ever since my teenage years in the sixties.

My first Zen teacher, Kobun Chino Otagawa, was Japanese. I drink organic Japanese sencha green tea almost every day.  I live in a small Northern California town that has long included a small, but vital Japanese community. Sebastopol has a fine Japanese Buddhist Temple.

Japan is the only Asian country I have visited. Sebastopol has a sister city, Yamauchi-Machi, on Kyushu, the southwestern island. We’ve hosted exchange students from Japan and we sent both of our children there. While I was in Japan I made many Japanese friends. I made sure to visit the atom bomb museum in Nagasaki. Visiting this site was a pilgrimage for me, an American peace activist and history major with at least some conscience about what my parent's generation did.

When I drive my Japanese-made car out to the coast and look west across the Pacific Ocean, my imagination stretches across the water to Japan.

News of this catastrophe has been difficult for me to absorb. I haven’t slept as well as I usually do. Images of the destruction appear in my mind between dreams (though the dreams themselves, oddly, are quite happy). Thinking about the implications of the earthquake in terms of energy, ecology, economy, doesn’t put me quickly back to sleep.

I’m walking (well not right now, plus here comes the rain!), singing and strumming my ukulele, doing yoga, and sitting through turbulent meditation periods. I catch myself numbing out—thinking about getting a video to watch, and I know I'm hurting.

I am trying to settle down, to make room for some happiness to beam through, but it will take time.

Even Mother Earth wobbled with this one.

17 comments:

Ruth said...

Peace, Dan. It sounds like you're doing what you can. It's good that you reached out and posted this. Writing is part of what is essential, I think.

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks, Ruth. Your blog inspired me to write this. It helps.

LauraX said...

I too am feeling deeply shaken, how can we not be?

Bonnie said...

When we try to be an open vessel, we are deeply affected when our brothers and sisters suffer. It is sobering to realize how fragile our existence and routines really are. Take care of yourself, Dan.

Margaret Pangert said...

It is so devastating, Dan. I'm glad that we as a country and as a people reach out to help in times of great need.
You're not too far from Santa Cruz? They had some pretty big waves. Did you? Our earth needs some people-care, too.

Sarah Lulu said...

I also feel hmmm a bit tilted of my own axis by it all.

George said...

You are not alone, Dan, in your pain over this great human and ecological tragedy. I sometimes feel that I have come to terms with the transient nature of all things and all life. When something like this occurs, however, I realize how far I must go. Acceptance of these events is almost impossible to process.

Dan Gurney said...

LauraX, thanks. I know I've got plenty of company in feeling this way. Part of me knows it is the appropriate response.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Bonnie. You're so right. What we think is so solid and permanent in our lives really is rather ephemeral and fragile. Events like this one underscore that observation.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Margaret. I live north of Santa Cruz and south of Crescent City. Our part of the coast, unlike those to the north and south of here, was spared.

Right now I am concerned about the nuclear power plants that have melted down. I fear that the radiation from them will cause a great deal of suffering for young people and animals and for many generations to come. It is so sad!

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Sarah Lulu. Me, too. Tilted off my axis. That's just it.

Dan Gurney said...

George, that says it just right for me. In easy moments we can think we've got equanimity down. Then this. Or, as you said in your recent post, a difficult business negotiation, and wham! We know we still have a ways to go. Maybe feeling like I do is the most appropriate response to this tragedy. I know numbing out is not a good approach.

Tess Kincaid said...

I, too, have a soft spot for Japan, having spent a summer in Kagoshima, in my teenage years. My thoughts are prayers go out to them.

Katherine said...

Yes Dan. It makes our little one in Christchurch look like nothing... Humans are a resilient species, we'll bounce back.
Hug

Katherine said...

Yes Dan. It makes our little one in Christchurch look like nothing... Humans are a resilient species, we'll bounce back.
Hug

Dan Gurney said...

Tess, thank you. Many prayers are being sent. It'll be a long road.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Katherine. Yes, I had heard that there had been an earthquake in Christchurch. I'm a genuine media hermit, so I didn't learn of it until some time after the fact.

In any event, this temblor in Japan was big enough to penetrate the wall I built between myself and the news and information from most sources.