Friday, March 18, 2011


I’m obsessed with the plight of Japan. Who isn’t? If you’re not, please let me know and help me disengage from the stream of news updated by the second. The pictures of the tsunami moving in and wiping out villages completely. The pending nuclear doom in the Fukushima Daiichi plants. The sinking Nikkei index and the G7 gathering to avert global economic crisis. Stories of miraculous rescue and families reuniting after having lost all hope.

With so much fixed interest in Japan, I hardly notice that the UN Security Council has imposed a no-fly zone in Libya. I have lost interest in Qaddafi’s (what’s the proper spelling, anyway?) folly and recklessness.

I am obsessed with Japan, its people, its future.

Ironically, the news piece that seems to have stuck to my brain was one about a dog. It haunts me now.

This soggy-furred animal, shivering, would not leave the side of his dog-friend, lying amidst waste on the beach. His friend was alive, but suffering. The soggy dog circled around the area, maybe looking for food, but would immediately return to the side of his friend, at one point sitting almost on top of his head. He stayed close. He wouldn’t leave the side of his dying friend.

This kind of loyalty, undeterred by selfish needs, even in a dog, is awe-inspiring. Consider a person whose side you’d never leave in their dying day. Not a thought I’d like to have every day, but it’s one I probably should consider while I am alive. It might help me cherish the life I have with my own loved ones.

Nothing like the scene of loved ones floating away in an angry ocean to stir my appreciation for my loved ones. Nothing like a tsunami to give me perspective.

Last weekend, Tim and I went to Trader Joes. When we came back out into the parking lot, I noticed a big ding in the side of the van. At an angle, the ding became a dent, light fracturing from this damage, a smear of red paint left like evidence of a crime. It was a crime! Incensed, I look around for a red car.

Of course, I ranted. Tim responded, “It’s just a thing. Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.” He quotes Yeats to calm me. I knew that he was right, but I continued to stew, arms crossed, all the way home and into the driveway.

After I unloaded my groceries, I sat at my computer to do some work, rumbling under my breath about people who “do such things” when up on my screen popped this image.

Cars floating away. Gone forever. Things fall apart. The center cannot hold.

I looked for that space in my being that zooms out and witnesses life on a global or galactic scale. Out the window, my meaningless van was parked in the driveway, already scraped from kids’ bikes. I remembered the first scratch, when the girls were racing out of the driveway on their bikes a few years ago. Smiling, I remembered when they were so small and innocent and protected.

Then I glanced over at the newest ding – the one with the red paint – and I thought of Japan’s flag. I got new perspective all over again.

I am obsessed with Japan. The tragedy reveals the greater truth.

Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. Only love remains.