Monday, March 14, 2011

"Neptune is shaking the wall, and the foundations, stirred by his mighty trident, and tearing the whole city up by its roots."*

I was on such a nice roll there will regular posting. On Friday I was all set to blog about my latest experience at the most depressing supermarket on earth  Stop and Shop, when Japan was rocked by an earthquake and then nearly swept away by a tsunami. Suddenly my excitement about the new self scanner guns at the Stop and Shop seemed foolish.

I have been watching the footage of the water moving in, first a stream and soon a force of water so strong that houses are effortlessly displaced from their foundations.

I can imagine how these events were experienced in the days before cameras and television, when information was communicated through song and word and scrolls. It must have seemed a punishment, a recrimination for wrong deeds when the earth cracked open and threw you to the ground. I don't know which is worse, the idea that the earth shakes and water destroys at the whim of an angry god, or the stark terror of knowing that there is no reason for either beyond the simple mechanics of physics. Plates and water move and wash away everything in their paths.

There is no way to prepare for calamity. It arrives, throws open the door and hauls you out. It does not care that you aren't ready, that your bag is not packed. This is your new life- if you are lucky enough to survive it.

Today it snowed, but it was not a tsunami.
Today my kids fought, but it was not a tsunami.
Today my life was imperfect, but it was not a tsunami.

Today I opt for gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. There was not a tsunami.

*Special thanks to my pal Julian for writing very movingly on Facebook about the tragedy and comparing it to these lines from The Aeneid.


alice said...

I tend to think of the earth as a living entity, and we're only living here because she hasn't yet decided to shake us off. She moves, breathes, settles, lurches... and we pay the price, because we cling tenuously to her surface.

It feels less fervent than a vengeful god, less helpless than mere physics.

I'm grateful she hasn't shaken me off yet.

Cheryl said...

Your pen is mighty. A nod to Alice for her mighty pen as well.

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I wish I could keep this perspective all the time, but it's hard. Maybe because earthquakes and tsunamis seem so unreal to me. But my heart breaks for the people dealing with this. It's hard to imagine going about your normal life and then suddenly everything you know is gone. Impossible.