|An acrylic color palette experiment. I was thinking of the Miyajima torii and the Shinto ideas of respect for each other, all life, our ancestors, and natural forces.|
On Thursday night, I intended to do some painting after getting home from judo practice. I needed to work out some ideas for a large painting that a friend requested, and I wanted to start making smaller paintings with different ideas to see what she liked most. But my plans were interrupted by news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Once I heard the news, I did not feel like painting anymore. I sat glued to the television and twitter to learn what areas were affected and to check on friends. I suppose I am lucky that everyone I know is safe. Some have been inconvenienced, but they are alive and well. Many live far enough south as to not be physically affected.
I grew up in California, so I am used to earthquakes. The biggest ones I have been in were strong enough to collapse buildings, overpasses and pieces of bridge. The shaking was severe in each one but I was never personally in any real danger. Some lives were lost, but the most I lost was electricity. In the Bay Area, I helped answer emergency phones at a radio station and prayed for people trapped in a collapsed freeway structure. In L.A., I helped return books to library shelves that all fell to the floor. There, I was shocked to drive by a three-story building that lost one wall. We could look straight in to all the homes as though it were a dollhouse.
I saw a video someone took from inside the Sendai airport, looking out of huge windows to the parking lot outside. People are gathered at three different story levels, watching the waves come rolling in. The waters pick up cars and shove them all along, floating past the windows. If I had been watching without sound, I might have remained more composed, but I heard the people shouting a familiar expression, "A-ra-ra-ra-ra!" ~ the same exclamation I heard as a kid for much lesser dangers, such as a flower pot getting knocked over or a nezumi hanabi (whirling sparkler) getting lit and chasing our feet. Hearing the expression again, for such a terrible calamity, nearly broke my heart.
The Japan earthquake is on a whole different level than anything I've experienced. The tsunami floods washing everything away make a double disaster. I am also truly hoping that the Fukushima power plants do not leak or cause further harm to a population already reeling from quake, flood and fires.
Both my home and workplace are pretty much right on top of several fault lines and there's a nuclear lab over the hill in Livermore. Perhaps it's because I know that this could just as easily have occurred here that I feel so gripped by this event. We try to be prepared, but Mother Nature is very powerful. In such a case, I hope we would have the resilience and strength the Japanese people have already shown.
I feel powerless to help in any substantial way from across the ocean. About all I can do is donate to the Red Cross and offer my encouragement to the survivors and deepest sympathy to those who were lost in this natural disaster. がんばって ください。
Update: Providing some links for donations to Japan relief...
Give2Asia ~ Artists Help Japan
Doctors Without Borders