As many of you are already aware, on March 11, there was a serious earthquake in Japan, measuring an 8.9 on the Richter Scale. Living a little southwest of Tokyo, I got to feel the earthquake pretty strongly, but no damage worth reporting has happened around me.
Shortly after, a tsunami washed over the shores of eastern Japan, reigning destruction in its turbulent path, leaving countless dead, injured, and homeless.
Over the next few days (today included), nuclear power plants one by one began faltering due to the damage of the quake and have caused explosions, leaking radiation into the air. Extremely low levels of radiation are reported where I am, and we have been advised to avoid unnecessary outdoor exposure, and to keep our windows closed and our heat/AC units off. Meanwhile, Japanese workers are working nonstop, around the clock and sacrificing their health and safety to help prevent this disaster.
Our base has been rationing off gas, and though the gas station is currently out of supply, it is expected to be replenished tomorrow, and in the following days. Gas stations off base have long been drained.
Food is quickly becoming scarce out in town, as people are trying to be prepared and supplied for their families.
The Japanese electric companies have been rationing out their supply of power, setting up scheduled rolling blackouts across the area, in order to maintain supply and to help keep the train stations running as much as possible. Thousands upon thousands of people are left stranded either at work or at home, unable to commute (and remember that Japan is highly public transportation-dependent).
Today, I let all of these factors get to me. I have been keeping up my brave face, but I admit that it finally all seeped in and I used my lunch break to cry. But I didn't cry just over the devastation, but rather, I had a "woe is me" pity party.
I was able to get off of work early because I had nothing to do in the afternoon, so I drove to the commissary and stocked up on my water and easily prepared, emergency food. I came home a little happier, having felt some control over my situation and feeling that at least I was in a slightly better place than I was an hour and a half before; at least I had a little extra food.
That is when it hit me; how selfish I was being and how ungrateful for how fortunate I have been. Yes, all of the things happening around me are absolutely terrifying, and I have a reason to be concerned. However, all I kept thinking about is "why me?" and how annoying it was that I had to prepare dinner at 2:30 in the afternoon because of the potential blackout this evening from 4:30-8:30. I was concerned over how chilly I may get tonight while keeping the heater off (mind you, the weather has been pretty fantastic, aside from all the crazy natural disaster shit going on). I was mad at the world that I wouldn't be allowed to let my kids play outside today because of the dangers of radiation.
I am normally an optimistic person, and that is a defining quality of mine that I am proud of. Alongside looking on the bright side of things, I try to make myself appreciate even the littlest things in life, and today I have failed myself in both regards. I have been so fortunate and blessed in so many aspects; the earthquake was fairly far away, no damage was here, I was able to reconnect with my family shortly after the quake and be by their side nonstop since, I have food, shelter and warmth, the radiation is a good distance from here, and if it comes down to it, I know I can be evacuated if things get worse.
So many people are suffering losses in every imaginable (and unimaginable) aspect, both here in Japan and around the world, and I need to remember to count my blessings. It is ok to feel overwhelmed and frightened and to give myself those moments to collect myself in private so I can be brave again for my kids. But I also need to remind myself that compared to so many around the world, my worries are comparatively minor.
Although I am a self proclaimed optimist, I do not live naively - having the mantra "expect the worst, hope for the best" is what has kept me sane all of these years being a military brat and wife. I am preparing our family for another quake, another form of natural disaster, radiation exposure, for the expected and unexpected blackouts, and now for an evacuation if need be. Its scary to live this way, but that is life for you. It is not always sunshine and roses, as the saying goes. This is the path that I was meant to travel on this earth, and I need to do so graciously and to be a good role model for my children. I need to remain grateful for the blessings in life that I have, and to remain strong in the face of calamities to teach my children how to overcome the big things in life.