I'm finding it terribly difficult to focus today.
The first thing I saw this morning when I sat down to begin my workday was the news of the tsunami in Japan.
Suddenly all my plans at work of newsletters, social media, website content and contests were derailed. How in the world could I work on a giveaway when an entire country was in shambles?
As I watched video after video I actually felt ill. I still do. Something about this disaster is becoming impossible to shake. I've never had a reaction like this to a natural disaster before.
I think it has to do with the repeated mentions of California and how it's next. Tsunami warning this morning mentioned cities such as San Francisco (a place many of my close friends live) even mentioned the Santa Barbara coastline, a place I grew up, a place my family and friends still reside.
Over and over I'm reading how what we're seeing in Japan today is soon to hit US soil once the San Andreas fault finally decides to give us a piece of its mind. We've been taught since before I could remember that the big one is coming, but it never felt very real until today.
Growing up in southern California I know a thing or two about earthquakes. I've slept through more than I can count (for some reason they always happened when I was sleeping) and there was only one quake I was awake for that blew my mind.
I was home from college for Christmas and suddenly I felt like I was on a boat in the middle of a storm. I sat right up in bed and realized very quickly that we were having an earthquake. Suddenly I heard my sister scream to confirm my suspicions and I bolted from my room into the living room to find my sister not standing in a doorway, not sanding in the front yard away from trees and heavy bookshelves, but clutching the Christmas tree to keep it from falling over.
I just stood there as the world shook in amazement.
As soon as it started it was over, and I laughed at my sister for not protecting herself but instead protecting the tree. She said it was just instinct to grab it before it toppled over.
But those memories don't feel so funny today.
Today all I can do is think of my best friend who lives in San Francisco, the land we're apparently waiting to be stricken next.
The images of those farmlands in Japan being covered with a wave of water, mud and debris fill my mind and what was once an image of a field in Japan is super imposed and all I can see is San Francisco. I try desperately to fight back the images of flattened cities and water up to windows because all it does is make me think of California. Of home.
How bad will it be?
How will we cope?
Will the people I love be ok?
I feel like every other month there is another natural disaster. The next one worse than the one before.
The quakes in Japan keep coming as the hours roll on and I just can't shake this sick feeling in my stomach.
I never expected this to hit me so hard. I'm bewildered by the reality that I'm sitting here actually fighting back tears.
Is it for the people suffering in Japan?
But why now? I didn't have this same reaction to the quake in Haiti…
Or are my feelings simply a reaction to a deeper fear that their suffering might be my own in this lifetime?
Is it because I know they're right when they say that we're next?
That after tsunami, after tsunami, devastating quake after quake I'm finally starting to think of natural disasters as expected occurrences instead of freaks of nature?
Or does this hurt so bad today because I feel so out of control?
Most likely, all of the above.
To everyone looking for loved ones, for everyone who lost a home, a friend, a town, a business a school, to all who are confused and scared, I am thinking of you today. More than I ever expected I would.
If this is hitting you as well, here are some resources for how you can help.