Saturday, 12 March 2011

When it comes right down to it ...

When it comes right down to it, I think first in terms of individual human lives rather than in big pictures.  I am a micro thinker, not a macro conceptualist.  Is that a word? That is why I ended up with a degree in literature rather than political science.  I can comprehend the pain of a single human being better than I can the force of numbers so reading about the Joad family as it struggled through the Depression had much more impact than reading textbook descriptions of thousands and thousands of North Americans who were out of work.

That is likely the reason  that, while I was stunned by the magnitude of this earthquake, and frightened by the thought of a nuclear disaster, it was Yoshiko I imagined, not the countless strangers who died under heaps of rubble.

Dear Barbara, thanks for your mail ask me about earthquake, Yes,yesterday when I was having tea at my home, suddenly terrible earthquake struck.... I hid under the table,I was so scared.... I couldn't sleep,tired ,so sad ,but I am OK now ,can't help ... mighty forces of Nature, terrible tragedy all over the Japan..... By the way, Did you get better? How are you? I have been thinking of you... please take care and keep in touch , Yoshiko 

Yoshiko is the only person I know in Japan.  She is in her mid-eighties and appears to be about 60 ... a diminutive woman who always looks stylish, even while traveling with a backpack.  

In the winter of 2009-10 she skied (downhill) 78 days in Japan and British Columbia. She wanted to make it up to the ski hill a day for every year of her life but the weather was less willing than she was. 

She is an artist whose water colours and other work hang in galleries in Japan and Europe. 

I met her two years ago when she came to River Echo to study English.  I was her driver, her guide and occasionally her dinner partner at local restaurants. 

Last summer she spent a week with me painting a tray.  Her snorkeling background gave her her colours and her subject matter. 

I hope she will be back at River Echo this summer or fall ... and I am very glad she is safe.


Barbara Carlson said...

Before I read this post, let me say to Kingmisha that I read her letter and, being American/Canadian, appreciate the solidarity from a Canadian. I have been a Cassandra for years re civil war, right-wing take-over/influence in American politics; I am heart sick for my birth country and even disowned it until Obama was elected in a brief window there of rationality -- but it looks like he (and we) may be swept away by the tsunami that is the arrogant ignorance of The "Right".

Barbara Carlson said...

I think everybody is a micro thinker -- we have our own tribes (in every culture it is, apparently, no more than 300 people) and having empathy for the thousands dead is only possible if you can grieve one dead friend.
I remember your inspiring posts about Yoshiko and am glad she is safe. She is sad about the too, too many who are gone but is thinking of you and how you are. You are impossible to forget, once met, Oma.

kingmisha said...

Yoshiko's concern for your health in the midst of her country's crisis is so touching and so Japanese.

Japan was my country of choice for the cultural anthropology portion of my Master's Degree. I find this disaster so devastating, I can't watch the footage. It's like a natural form of Hiroshima to me.

The scale of the disaster is beyond comprehension so I focus on memories of art, films, architecture and pray that none of it is lost.

My daughter's closest friend at U of T was a young Japanese man that I too remember fondly. She immediately emailed him to inquire about his safety and the state of his parents, wife and child. They are well but deeply shocked by what has happened in the north of that beautiful land.

I'm able to take in the big picture, but I'm only able to identify with individuals. That is a pretty standard response, I believe. I love the Japanese culture and I'm deeply moved by the resilience of its people. They will overcome because alas, they have had a lot of practice.

Thank you Barbara Carlson for your kind words.

Oma said...

Without the intelligence and sensitivity of comments like these, this would just be a blog ... and likely one whose posts would eventually wither and die. Thank you both ... and thank you to all who post or get back to me by email.