Mar 15, 2011

A different type of beauty

What a roller coaster ride these last five days have been. I've watched the country I've called my home for the last five years experience the worst disaster since WWII. I've watched my friends panic, trying to get in touch with loved ones. I've watched the horrors on the news, talked to friends who spent five hours walking to a home that has no electricity, and I've had to spend time on the phone reassuring the foreigners whose well-being I'm in charge of that we're OK. We are OK.

And we are. How lucky I feel. How thankful. Life in Kyoto is smooth sailing. I was at Starbucks Saturday morning, able to enjoy my usual (non-fat, no whip White Mocha) while others were up with the sun that morning after sleeping on the cold streets, faced with the reality of the horrific damage that was done the night before. I had gone to sleep in a warm bed next to my safe, loving husband, took a hot shower, curled my hair, and moved on with my day.

It's amazing what tragedies can pull out of humanity. I see some people panicking, debating on fleeing the country at their earliest possible convenience. Then there are those who, at their earliest possible convenience, are ready to jump at the chance to help rebuild, to donate - blood, clothes, money, food - anything that we are lucky enough to have in abundance. I see updates on facebook of people saying the most hateful, horrible things that I could never even imagine thinking about a country and its people (none of my friends, of course). But I also see the flooding of support that is pouring in: the money, the aid, the shoulders to cry on. I'm just so thankful that the positive outweighs the negative in every single aspect, and I choose to concentrate on the bright side.

In a few weeks, the cherry blossoms are going to bloom. By this point, I'm guessing that Japan will be past the horrors that are still haunting us - aftershocks, nuclear plant explosions, the tragic searches for loved ones lost - and will be working on rebuilding. Once again, the Japanese will rise from the ashes. Cherry blossoms, or sakura, symbolize many things - an omen of good fortune, of love and affection. And the sakura will remind us all that beauty - and life - is fleeting. We should treasure every moment. I have a feeling that the blooming of the sakura will be a beautiful, touching, inspiring, poignant time - and it will carry with it a stronger feeling this year than ever before. And though life will go on, we should never forget.

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