Tuesday, May 13, 2008


The weather was so bad yesterday--strong winds, cold rain, and lots of it. A huge limb split off a tree at the Johnston's next door and crashed through their roof. Saul mentioned it in his comments yesterday and Ari asked to see photos. No one was hurt. It was just a nuisance. Today the tree experts came and chipped the whole thing away and put a piece of plywood on the roof to cover the hole until it can be repaired—minor damage compared to the tornado damage some other states suffered this week.

Within the last week, a cyclone and its aftermath has killed and will continue to kill tens of thousands in Myanmar. And now, a huge earthquake has killed probably tens of thousands in China. I often think that life had to have been a lot more upbeat in the distant past when news of such occurrences took months to travel across continents and if one heard about them, they must have seemed tremendously remote. I watched one analysis that explained that if an earthquake like the one in China occurred here, it would be felt from Maine to Arizona.

When I was in China in January, in Beijing, I was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people. I was also impressed that they apparently have begun to really prosper after a very rough period in their history when millions died of starvation. Huge modern apartment buildings and hotels are constructed so quickly that the cab drivers who drive there every day are hard-pressed to find their way around in new sections of the city with new roads. To stem the tide of the population explosion, the government created penalties for couples who had more than one child. Watching television and seeing people grieving over the draped bodies of their dead children in front of their collapsed school building, I wonder how many of them were only children, the repositories of all their parents hopes and dreams for the future. How can you go on with your life after something like that?

My only real exposure to Myanmar was through a fictional book by Amy Tan called Saving Fish From Drowning. I read it on the airplane at Jessica's recommendation on the trip to China. The title seems rather ironic now. Larry is supposed to go to Myanmar as part of his trip in October. We are wondering if his trip will be cancelled. Will there be anything worth seeing there after this?

I feel a bit like I did after 9/11. I was watching television on that beautiful September morning and watched that second airplane sail through cloudless blue skies and slam into that building full of innocent people. I watched some scenes in that first hour that I have been trying to forget since I witnessed them. I wondered every day for a month if I would ever feel happy again. Having all these horrors available to witness every time I turn on the television is starting to wear me down and I will have to resort to staying away from the news for a while. I hate that, but I don't seem to be able to say, "thank God that's not happening to me" and continue to eat my breakfast like normal people do. I find it disconcerting when the Today Show goes from a disaster clip to one about the best lipstick to buy.

How should I deal with what is, for me, sensory overload? I went outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather, smelled the flowers, literally, and contemplated the beautiful chive flowers which are just opening and provide a once-yearly culinary treat for only about a week. I feel very, very lucky right now, but I also feel very sad.

1 comment:

Ari said...

and I thought I was sensitive...