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.