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Shaken: The thought of stricken Japan

Life with a View

March 19, 2011
The Mining Journal

I can't not think about Japan. That country's nightmare trifecta of an earthquake and tsunami followed by radiation leaks makes the pounding blizzards, mudslides and flooding that have pummeled much of the U.S. this winter look like love taps.

It feels a little obscene to go about my usual business when millions of my fellow humans are caught in a living nightmare: homeless, cold and hungry, afraid of radiation exposure. It's surreal that on the same planet where some of us get to drink our coffee, jump in our cars and head to work for the same old same old, entire cities lay in ruins and waterlogged bodies drift ashore among the debris of ruined cities.

Japan may be a foreign culture thousands of miles away from us, but who can't relate to the anguish on the faces of its citizens as they watched their homes shudder, crumble and be washed away, along with everything they own? They were doing the same thing we do, living their normal, everyday lives, coping with ordinary problems, enjoying ordinary pleasures. I can't help wondering how it would feel to be in their shoes, to lose everything in a matter of minutes.

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Imagine the destruction that would be wrought if the earth under us in the U.P. were to shake, if Lake Superior rolled into Marquette with 14-foot-high waves, hurling cars into buildings like a wild toddler flinging his blocks. I try to imagine how it would feel to watch as everything comfortable and familiar was swept away by oily, debris-cluttered black water, wondering if my family and friends are still alive, whether my pets had survived.

Imaging is easy. Knowing how it feels is incomprehensible.

It hurts my heart to see TV coverage of bewildered Japanese children and shell-shocked adults huddled in shelters or trudging in the winter cold searching for missing family members; I want to swoop in and fix it. The best I can offer is my money, my prayers and my compassion.

The earthquake is a reminder of how vulnerable we all are on this ever changing planet. A shift of the earth, the roll of a wave, and life as we know it becomes life as it used to be.

Of course, we can't continually focus on the knowledge that life hangs by a capricious thread. We have our hands full coping with the personal earthquakes that shake our lives, from illness to job loss to the death of a loved one. And when the dust settles after those quakes, the return to our normal, routine life offers such extraordinary comfort.I'm grateful today to be living, not surviving. When my car coughs and hesitates, when my cat throws up on the living room rug, when I get a past due notice on a bill I thought I'd already paid, I hope I remember that these are minor tremors in a largely unshaken life. I hope I remember to be thankful for the gift of an ordinary life.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Deb Pascoe is a Marquette resident, mother of three and full-time editorial assistant in The Mining Journal newsroom. Her bi-weekly columns focus on her observations on life and family. She can be reached by phone at 228-2500, ext. 240, or by e-mail to Read her blog online at www.singlesobermom.blogspot. com.



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