I haven’t written in a while, since January I’ve been working on a side project for the company that has me exceptionally enthused, so I was coding at nights and weekends, at home or going into the office. At the beginning of March we had a number of important presentations to prepare for, etc. etc. Now as few things that greatly alter the course of one’s life are planned, Japan is in the wake of one of the most devastating earthquakes in recorded history.
The last week has been a series of ups and downs, with drama on all fronts. Physically I am in no immediate danger, and my greatest personal challenges are those shared with many of my countrymen, fear, distrust and apprehension. Conspiracy theorists on both sides of the ocean are dubious as the quality of the information disclosed by the government and the power company, but I’m not in a position to play pundit. My goal is to keep a level head, do my job, and support the country as best I can. If I were to start doubting the veracity of the news provided to be by the authorities, then I might as well leave the country outright, which is the course chosen by an increasingly large number of expatriates. I am an American citizen but for all intents and purposes otherwise Japanese. My livelihood, my friends, and my passion all thrive in this country and I will not toss them all away on mere conjecture. I would be lying if I said that I don’t think about the threat of another earthquake or radioactive contamination on a daily basis, but I am fortunate to be able to say it is a fear that weakens by the day, and roughly as much a factor in my decisions as cholesterol level.
I do not consider myself noble or strong, perhaps stubborn more than anything. I have lost sleep this week like millions of others, but when considering my position as compared to most others in the this disaster-stricken country, I have no right at all to complain. I have no wife, no children, no family’s future to think of other than those I have yet to produce. My house was only slightly tousled from the earthquake, and the central location of it precludes me from the current rolling blackouts. I do not need to commute on the trains and line up for hours hoping I can get home, my bicycle works as well as it ever has. In a time of so much chaos, from a topical perspective I am total control of most of the everyday factors of my life.
I’ve starting carrying my passport with me at all times, and though the implications of such an action are unsettling, it provides me a small sense of comfort. I also enrolled in the STEP program, and for the first time in a long time I found a deep, moving sense of value in my American citizenship.
I want to be stronger and less affected by the words of those around me, but I overdosed on information in the first 72 hours of this crisis, and found my composure leeching away through the tide of so many panicked voices.
I’ve come to Kyoto this weekend to clear my mind. I was just here two months ago so in terms of a vacation spot it’s not the top of my choices, but it’s familiar and farther removed from the gashed wounds in Japan’s heartland. The next three days I hope to find quiet and busy myself again once in expression, through code, and words, and music. Three days of walking, three days of contemplation, of strengthening, three days of prayer and rebirth.