It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
Although I wasn’t physically there where it happened, I remember seeing live reporting from a helicopter beamed to Australian television screens showing the destructive wave making its way through the Tōhoku landscape.
My jaw dropped. How could nature be so powerful and cruel?
I can say that this event has shaped much of who I have become over the last ten years.
My solo journey through Tōhoku in 2017 included visiting places heavily impacted by the disaster, including in Sendai and Ishinomaki, as well as a moment when I spoke with a surprisingly joyous man in a bar for hours, talking about how he lost his family in the disaster; a conversation that has profoundly shaped my vision for the future.
The cover photo of this post is one that I took on the southern end of Tashirojima Island, Miyagi Prefecture, looking out to where the earthquake occurred.
I recall this day every year with a few important reflections and realisations.
The fragility of life
Throughout much of our lives, we feel like we don’t have much control over what we’re doing, let alone what's happening around us.
When natural disasters occur, we reconcile with the unavoidable truth that we aren’t fully in control of our own future.
Anything could happen at any moment, so live in, and enjoy, this present moment right now.
Take a moment to observe your surroundings, no matter where you are. It could be your home, or you could be on public transport. Take it in.
Think of the people you love and care about, and take a deep breath.
Now is the most important moment of your life. It was when you started reading this, and it will be when you finish.
Don’t underestimate the power of nature
Nature truly controls most of what we can do with our lives.
It can give life, and it can take it away in an instant.
Water gives life when we need to drink it, but too much water can have disastrous consequences.
We're living in an period of pandemic, scrambling to fully understand this force of nature and how we can over come it.
We’re only here temporarily on this Earth, so the least we can do is respect it.
Time is limited.
We all have moments in time that greatly reflect who we are, who we want to become and reveal simple moments of fragility in our own lives on this Earth.
For me, this event was one of them. Even though I wasn't physically there, it has always felt like I was, or have been, at some point in time.
Maybe in a past life, or maybe a connection I don't fully understand.
But it's there, and ever since my visit to that incredibly stunning part of the world, I've always felt drawn to it.