Friday, March 11, 2011

Disaster stories

My husband and I were awake last night when Twitter began reporting the 8.9 earthquake in northeastern Japan, and we watched the footage of the tsunami. It feels very personal to us, because we lived in Tokyo for more than two years. Remote as Tokyo may be from me now, the tsunami waves from that disaster are reaching Capitola, where I grew up, this morning. I also find that the disaster is hitting me in the heart, making me worry for my friends who live there, making me talk to people and share my feelings because they are too deep and moving not to be shared.

My friend Bob Eggleton (the brilliant sf/f artist) said on Facebook this morning,

-when you think about it, it takes the earth itself to remind us that all our differences of race, religion, politics and so on are meaningless. We are all Humans on one planet. Looking at the news in Japan, and not forgetting New Zealand, this is a truth.

We are all organisms on this planet, and similarly we are all social creatures. Those emotions that move us beg to be shared. We hear stories about how people can remember where they were at the time that John F. Kennedy was shot - when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit - when the towers fell on 9/11 - and now, when this earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.

How many of you have a disaster story? How many people have you shared it with? How many people did you share it with immediately after it happened, so you could hug, laugh, cry? I believe this is one of the things that human beings have in common all across the world. There is value in storytelling, and in sharing deep emotion.

My heart is aching for the people of Japan right now. I think of the people in New Zealand who are still recovering. I think to myself that I live in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and that I should update my earthquake kit this weekend.

And I think I feel a story growing out of this right now.


  1. Hugs. I hope your friends are all right. We've been checking on folks in Hawaii too, but apparently there was time to evacuate there.

    The disaster that made a big impact on me that you haven't listed is the Challenger explosion. Not as many lives as the others, but emotionally, especially for those of us who long for space travel, huge impact.

  2. Thanks for the good wishes, Margaret. And thank you for reminding me about Challenger. I remember that one quite well, though it wasn't one that occurred to me as I initially wrote this.