A year ago today, in the afternoon of March 11, I remember feeling light-headed at work and trying to keep my eyes straight on what I was reading. I thought, probably, it was time to have my anemia checked by a doctor. This went on for about a minute, then I realized that it was not my anemia causing my light-headedness but that the tables and wires were actually swaying. This was a minor earthquake, I supposed, but it was a long one lasting around 3 minutes. I was oblivious of how catastrophic the quake was until I reached home and watched the news on television. I watched the whole thing in horror. Somewhere northeast of where I was, the ground shook 5 times more intense and brought with it a tsunami wiping out towns and villages along its path. It was like the Great Deluge where I was one of the lucky ones spared. I immediately called my friends from high school who lived in the affected areas and was relieved that they were safe. But there is the inescapable reality that a lot of lives were lost. Thousands were left homeless and orphaned facing an uncertain future. The fifth greatest earthquake in history had just unfolded.
A year has passed and we in Japan are facing the daunting task of rebuilding what was destroyed. It seems impossible but from the catastrophe we also heard stories of hope and optimism that we have all learned from, like that of one old man interviewed on TV who said that “When the tsunami came and washed away my possessions and livelihood, I feel like I’m on a clean slate. Before, I worried about my company and how much profit I had to make each day. After being stripped of those worries, I started to see again how beautiful the sunshine was, and the small flowers all around hinting of the coming spring. I found so much joy in these things which I never took notice of before the tsunami. I don’t think of what I lost but instead thank the heavens of what I have left. I survived, so I guess I must move on.”
Mou chotto gambarimashou. Akirameruna, Nihon!