Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trying to see the big picture



This morning I remembered that after the Loma Prieta earthquake, the only pictures floating around (mostly on TV, there wasn't an internet then) were of the worst aspects of the destruction. I googled "Loma Prieta earthquake" - this link shows what came up in the mix.

I lived in San Francisco then. I experienced the earthquake while waiting to pay for a pizza at a groovy restaurant in San Francisco's civic center. I saw the ground turn into a wavy line, I dived under a table along with everyone else in the groovy pizza place. It took me an hour to drive home, even though I was on my scooter and had the option of riding down sidewalks. My commute, ordinarily, was 10 minutes.

I can tell you that though we were scared out of our minds for awhile, most of the Bay Area was only slightly affected by the quake. There were no pictures on TV of my neighborhood (Bernal Heights) where the impact of the quake was minor. In my house, a few books fell over. There were no televised pictures of our neighbors, sitting together every night for awhile after the quake, drinking wine and telling stories. There are no published pictures of how well we treated each other after the quake. It actually scared us out of our San Francisco attitude. We made eye contact, talked with strangers, we were careful with each other.

Of course what happened in Japan is hundreds of times worse than what we experienced in 1989. Still, there are parts of Japan that are unaffected, where the buildings are standing and people are going about their business as usual, especially in southern Japan.

Looking at all those terrible pics and videos frightens me. If I spend too much time with images of destruction, I begin to spiral downwards into a dark place that is no good to anyone. Without ignoring the suffering and destruction, I'm trying to find a place of balance that includes the knowledge that the entire country has not been destroyed.

I'm singing, mostly just Ohm Shanti over and over again until my sinuses rattle, singing and holding in my heart and mind the idea that there are other stories unfolding in Japan. It isn't just destruction. Struggling to entertain a variety of stories, other than what we're being fed here on the network (and no doubt, on TV) helps me cultivate hope for recovery and healing.

Against everything I see/hear on the network, I will cultivate hope. I will. Do you believe me? Shalom.

12 comments:

jeanette from everton terrace said...

I read something on a blog written by an American living in Japan and he said something along the lines of - there is a point where you've gone beyond being informed and you enter into voyerism.
Singing in Arizona.
PS- my daughter is going to be spending the summer in DC so we might finally get ourselves over there :)

ellen abbott said...

I've seen enough pictures, watched a couple of videos, to comprehend the enormity of what happened but I don't immerse myself in the tragedy. Mostly what I think of when I see those videos is not the loss of human life and endeavor but the total and complete power of nature to undo in minutes what it takes humans lifetimes to achieve. Nothing quite so humbling.

Elizabeth said...

Dogs seem to be showing up pretty often in your recent posts......
hm.......

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen: yes!

Jeanette: YES. Try not to come in August, though - a horrible month. Earlier in summer is best.

Whitney Lee said...

I am trying to focus on sending healing energy that way and on cultivating an even more grateful attitude in my own life. I haven't watched any videos or looked at any pictures in the last few days. I figure the devastation is what it is at this point and immersing myself in the fear and horror isn't going to help anyone. I also agree with ellen; nature is amazing.

Linda said...

Maybe a gift I can give to the Japanese right now is to enjoy the way the sun lights up a host of daffodils. Maybe I need to appreciate how delicious my breakfast tasted this morning and how lucky I am to open my fridge and turn on my stove. I am sitting in my warm house, using electricity. Life is fragile. Thank you for sharing the insecurity and sadness I am feeling in my heart, Reya. xoxo

Reya Mellicker said...

You are all forces for good in the world. Thank you!

The Bug said...

I have to admit that I've avoided looking at any videos or pictures - it's just too much to comprehend. I like your idea of considering the whole, for balance.

Karen said...

I'm RIGHT there with ya, sister. I'd been without tv and mostly without internet for a week when this happened, and an hour or so of trying to find out about it has cured me of wanting to watch/look/see... I'm way too empathetic/sensitive to be ingesting much of that imagery...

People are grieving and suffering, but they are also helping each other and finding hope and starting the process of healing. I'm holding onto that and feeding that as much as possible.

Anne said...

This morning the internet fed me a picture from Japan of a man holding his little dog -- who had just been rescued -- sobbing. the dog looked sorta dazed, but basically ok. Glad to be being held by his human friend.

so I liked that.

Cause I remember the Loma Prieta quake, too, and being woken up in the night for days after, by phone calls from friends in Europe, desperately afraid that Avalon had fallen into the ocean.

No. We were fine. We cleaned up, watched the lights on the Bay Bridge come back on, went on with life.

There's always some of that. And it's not on the news.

Reya Mellicker said...

I love thinking about the reunion of the dog with his human partner. That's a good thought.

Ohhhmmmmmmmmmm Shanti

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

I was really surprised by the calls and emails from family and coworkers concerned about ME and the tsunami hitting California. It did some damage here and took one life, but so minor by comparison.