Three weeks ago the late winter sun splashed its brilliance across the Kanazawa sky. I walked home extra slow that day.
Two weeks ago I opened my curtains to let in the morning, and a white heron skirted past my window. It left me breathless.
One week ago a 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit the Tohoku region of Japan. Shortly afterwards, tsunami waves over 20 meters in height hurled themselves onto the land. Shock turned to fear. Fear turned to sadness. Sadness turned to compassion.
Yesterday morning a swallow followed me to work, dancing to the rhythm of its tweets. I gave myself permission to smile.
I’m confounded by the paradox of nature—simultaneously playful and dangerous, continually giving and taking life.
Today the air smells of melted snow and new earth. Spring has come. The weight of wool clothes and whipping winds has lifted. I'm liberated.
I'm also chained.
Chained to the news. Every day the death toll rises. Every day more people are displaced.
For Japan, spring has ushered in new shoots and the promise of pink, but these gifts of nature cannot easily be received in customary celebration.
“I’m sending food to my family in Yokohama.”
“My friend in Chiba is trying to leave, but the trains are full. She’ll have to wait another week. She has a baby, so she’s worried about radiation.”
“I feel guilty hoarding canned food and bottled water, but I’m afraid.”
“I’m angry at the government.”
“The Japanese media is hiding the truth.”
“The situation isn’t getting any worse.”
“Do you want to go back to your country?”
“I’m thankful for the help of the US military.”
“Will people stop buying Japanese goods because they are worried about contamination?”
“I’m moved by the generosity and humanitarian efforts put forth by so many people to help Japan.”
“We will rebuild.”
* * *
Cherry blossom buds continue to stretch and grow.
Soil is turned inside out.
The cycle of the seasons.
An old woman hobbles past kids playing ball in the street.
The cycle of a generation.
I inhale everything and sweep my arms up to the sky. I exhale everything and bend forward. Elongate my spine. Hinge and fold. Step back into downward dog.
More than ever I use my yoga to cultivate peace and radiate compassion.
When I give to Japan, I’m also thanking Japan for its many gifts to me.
* * *
If you want to help Japan with relief efforts, please visit these links: