Last night I was on the phone with a friend around 11 when she told me about the 8.9 earthquake in Japan. "There are tsunami warnings for the West Coast. You better get out of there and head inland." She couldn't find any further information, so I got out of bed and found direct live coverage on Al Jazeera. We stayed glued to our separate machines, downloading the same information a few seconds apart for the next hour. I was horrified by the visuals of the massive destruction unfolding across the Pacific Ocean. I've lived through many earthquakes. I've never gotten complacent about them.
I saw the biggest fire eruption I've ever seen. It made me think about what Stuart Wilde said back in a 1987 workshop called "33 Steps Beyond the Earth Plane": "When watching disturbing videos of the destruction happening in the world, always look for the beauty on the screen." To see such fireballs erupting is actually gorgeous, but it is hard to realize that there will be no fire fighters capable of putting those flames to rest. It was even more disturbing almost twelve hours later to realize that similar fires in the quake and tsunami zone then spread into neighborhoods where fire fighters also couldn't do what they do -- extinguish flames.
I did cognitive dissonance studies for the Psychology Department at Berkeley on the Three Mile Island incident. To think that no one prepared for the worst case scenario in the nuclear power plant is incredible. The entire world waits to discover if the wrath of mother nature will cause a horrendous man-made calamity to add insult to injury.
This is the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history. What we are discovering is that no human preparation can ensure safety for a quake of that magnitude. An urban planner friend of mine told me that any quake over an eight means the results of any architectural precautions are minimal and unpredictable. What's the bottom line? We are all vulnerable. There is no certainty. There is no safe place. There is no guarantee. I have a friend who left his life in the state of Washington because he was so concerned about the coming changes our country was going to experience. He moved to Christchurch a few years ago. No one and no place is immune to the coming Earth changes.
For me personally, it makes me want to bypass chemotherapy even more stringently. I don't want to weaken myself until after 2012, perhaps not until 2014. If I can live through that period of time, and life is still worth living, then perhaps I'll consider it. But for the time being, I don't want to feel like death and be unable to carry on in a crisis as I might expect to do without my immune system shot even further than it already is. I want me now.
I feel for those who were going about their business at 2:46 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Kids were in class, perhaps already frightened, since they'd just experienced a 7.3 quake last week. Perhaps they were packing up their books and belongings, getting ready to go home to be with their mothers, get a snack and do homework until the entire family was home together. Instead, potent black waves of water carried cars, houses, bodies and boats many miles inland. Because the quake was so shallow, the wave came less than half an hour later. Despite the Japanese warning system, there was not enough time for many to move to higher ground, if higher ground was even available. We don't have these systems in place here in the States, and our politicians just voted to slash funds for the Hawaiian warning system this week. The statistics are still small, but by the looks of the pictures of such devastation, a week from now the numbers will be huge. If something like that happened in San Francisco, which is due, or southern California, in the afternoon when so many are out on freeways and commuting long distances, it would be a nightmare of unbelievable proportion. I'm unbelievably humbled by this moment.
I was frightened to go out this morning to get my blood test, but because I was fasting, I needed to go get it done before I could eat. I feel fairly safe because I'm a few blocks in, I'm four floors up, my town has a breakwater and we are behind The Bluff, which is more than 50 feet up from the flat sand and incoming ocean.
We know a big one is coming. With today's footage, we have a better idea of what to expect. Our fault lines might not be as deep as Japan's plates are, and according to the news today, that means we'll probably only experience a high 7 or a low 8. We should be so lucky. Many today were not lucky. So many are so much more vulnerable than I am. Yet, I feel it and I fear it. I recognize I can't do much but prepare myself as best I can, then trust and have hope.
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