What’s next?


Last Thursday was my birthday; a day, on which I had planned to celebrate me and my existence; a day which started out quite wonderfully, but which was seriously dampened at the end of the day by the news of the devastating earthquake off the coast of Japan. (Therefore, I’ll be saving my birthday recap for another day.)
J and I had just finished a fun movie night, when we switched to MSNBC and learned about the earthquake as it was unfolding.

I couldn’t help but feel incredibly silly and selfish for complaining about the fact that I couldn’t spend my birthday with my sister and the rest of the family, that there weren’t any friends close by to go out with, and that in general I just secretly wished for things that I couldn’t have on my birthday.

Many people in Japan, they might not even know where their friends and relatives are, they don’t know if they’re safe or even alive, which in turn made me incredible thankful for the fact that I at least know that my family and friends are safe and well.

I was glued to the TV into the early Friday morning hours and have been checking the news periodically over the weekend. The damage, the devastation, the hardship, the sheer destruction of this natural disaster-times-two is simply unfathomable. I am heartbroken for the people of Japan.

As a geologist, I am strangely fascinated and horrified at the same time by all natural disasters. Understanding the science behind it and being able to send out warnings and evacuate is so very important in order to save lives. We also forget that thousands of lives might have been spared because of the strict building codes and earthquake preparedness in Japan. Still, there will always be homes destroyed, lives lost and faith shattered.

Is it only me, or do you also feel that natural disasters are happening more frequently? It feels like we’re in a perpetual state of anticipation for the next shoe to drop. Sometimes I am afraid to turn on the news. But although images of disasters, violence and human hardship saturate our TV screens these days, I haven’t gone numb, but am always left emotionally devastated.

I always wonder: What’s next?

  1. My heart goes out to the people of Japan! I don’t even know what to say, I’m just so incredibly sad.

    I shut off the TV though since (especially German) catastrophe journalism seems to totally give a damn about the devestation and suffering of the people to be able to raise the quota/sell papers.

  2. Uschi and I were saying the same about how it seems Mother Nature is just plain angry right now. It does make me wonder…
    Even here in New Hampshire we have storms and small earth quakes, but nothing like Japan.

  3. It seems to me that they’re happening more frequently, too – CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL. My even bigger fear is that one of these natural disasters will cause a man-made disaster we won’t be able to rebound from, something like the oil spill or Japan’s leaking nuclear reactors. It terrifies me.

  4. I think we were all a bit humbled by the news of what’s been going on in Japan these past few days. It definitely makes you step back and appreciate what you have right here, right now.

    On a side note, I hope you had a wonderful birthday!

  5. it is horrible. i don’t think my brain can quite grasp what’s happening. it seems strange to just go on and live your life like nothing happened… at the same time, what else is there to do. i still hope you had a nice b-day (weekend) and my thoughts go out to all the people affected by this disaster.

  6. Wonderful thoughts!
    My heart goes out to everyone in Japan! It is so devastating!!

  7. It’s horrible and yes, I feel like a lot of things are happening more lately now. It’s sad & scary to even think about it and I hope nothing bad like this will happen again…if that’s too much to hope for then at least for a while!

  8. Very sad indeed. And so scary…especially with a baby on the way you want to make sure the future is somewhat safe, but I guess you can never be sure. It is so very sad, let’s just hope they can prevent a meltdown…scary thought. Hopefully, it wont get any worse….hugs to you!

  9. I’m almost upset this happened on your birthday. To me birthday’s are special and should be the person’s special, unique day, it’s just one day out of the entire year! But, I hear you about being emotionally devastated. The images are horrible and one cannot but feel for the people that are going through so much, and apparently will continue to go through this for quite some time, as the aftermath is still being calculated. I do hope the time you got to celebrate it before the tsunami news was happy and special :)

  10. Natural disasters seem to happen much more lately because of the much larger media presence as in TV, internet, social media and so on – since we are in touch with all these media on a daily basis we get the same news 100+ a day.

    Nevertheless, it’s devastating to see the destruction in Japan and misery its people have to go through.My thoughts are with them!

  11. Happy Belated Birthday! I too was glued to the TV/internet on Friday. In addition to all the horrific images I also couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of the nuclear power plants exploding. As for the frequency of Mother Nature’s wrath – I completely agree. Between all the powerful hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunami’s and even those birds falling from the sky – I think something is brewing. I don’t think it is a coincidence that all this disaster keeps happening nor is it because Media awareness. I think yes they sensationalize disasters for news value but I do think that they are occurring more frequently. I have had this discussion before. It is very scary to think about because unlike war, Mother Nature is uncontrollable.


  12. I watched a lot of news coverage about Japan this weekend. It is so devastating and heart breaking. I do think its happening more frequently as well. Very scary.

  13. I hear that earthquake moved the island of Japan eastward by 8 feet. EIGHT FEET! That’s an incredible amount of force!

    I’m pretty sure I remember this correctly, but I’ve heard that over the course of time, natural disasters do come in waves. And there have been times in the past (before any of us were living) when natural disasters happened in great numbers. There’s just more to lose now that man has built such vast infrastructures. Makes it no less frightening, nonetheless.

  14. It’s so devastating! My heart goes out to the people in Japan!
    I saw a woman on TV who couldn’t hold on to the hand of her daughter when the water came. Her daughter is missing and she just hopes she is still alive.
    When I saw her sitting there, so “calm” with a slight “smile” on her face, I wanted to agitate her and scream: you are allowed to cry, you are allowed to be heartbroken! … but I know, this is their mentality ;(

  15. Awww, San. Yeah. It’s really rough to know what is going on right now in Japan. It’s really scary. And the hardest part I think for me is…that we get to just keep going on with our lives over here. You know? Not that we shouldn’t; of course, we should! But. It’s just incredible to me how vastly different our situation is right now compared to theirs. I think the most notable effect this has on me is a profound sense of gratitude, you know? I just feel so incredibly grateful to be here, able to go about my life, eat a hot dinner, curl up in my bed, and know that my loved ones are safe and near. It reminds me that these are things we should never ever take for granted, because we could be next in line. You know? I don’t mean to sound morbid, but it’s just good to remember that time is fleeting, and anything could happen at any time. And it’s good to remember to be thankful and appreciative for every moment, even the ones that seem mundane, even the ones that seem frustrating. Because in light of all this, there is absolutely nothing for us to complain about. Traffic? A “bad” day? Seems pretty silly to complain in light of what they are experiencing in Japan right now! You know? Gosh, I hope I don’t sound preachy at all, I am speaking mostly to myself, these are just things I have been reminding myself this week when I’ve been tempted to complain. So yeah. Thanks for this post! <3

  16. It’s incredibly scary seeing all these disasters happening so often and so very heartbreaking. This was a great post to really remind us how lucky we are.

  17. I absolutely think things like this are happening more often. I feel like I went most of my life without huge catastrophes hitting the Earth and then, in the past five or six years, it’s been almost non-stop. Katrina, multiple tsunamis taking so many lives and earthquakes with magnitudes I can’t even imagine. I wonder what’s next too…

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