Life goes on.
The needle keeps getting bounced out of the groove by the aftershocks and a little bit of the old music repeats – a gulp of fear and a glance around the environment to check you are in a survivable area in case the shock gets big. Luckily these aftershocks are now fewer, further between and not nearly so strong; apart from the mag 7 one the other week (the long predicted large aftershock) which left the nerves a little more rattled.
Meanwhile the catalogue of errors and judgement mistakes that TEPCO executives have made over the past few years as well as over the first few days of the accident begins to trickle out and the official accident level has been raised to 7 – the same as Chernobyl. But despite all this, I think my faith in the fundamental safety of the plant was completely justified. It is still not “a Chernobyl”, nor could it ever be one, and no one is going to die as a result of it. Not even in twenty years of cancer.
Life goes on in Tokyo and is basically unchanged, but my eyes have been widened not just by the terror of my own brief experience, but more by being on the periphery of a genuine disaster. The real one, not the media fantasy one.
Life in Tohoku, meanwhile, goes on but will never be the same ever again. Hopefully soon we will stop counting the dead and start paying proper attention to the living, stranded among the ruins of their own lives and desperately in need of aid. If you haven’t read Tracey and Dee’s account of their first trip to help, please do – but be warned you will need the tissue box to hand, I well up just thinking about it.
The broken lives and lost towns and villages, the videos of schools swept away by the flood, the pictures of the tangled remains of roads, homes, cars and fishing boats dashed against each other… all of it has left wounds not just on the landscape but on the people. Especially those who are left bereft, but also on me too.
So what can I do? There is a helplessness in the face of the scale of this that makes action difficult. Donate, donate and donate again to the relief efforts and encourage others to do the same and lend whatever support one can to the brave souls charging out to volunteer with the relief efforts directly. Encourage others to do the same. Which brings me to the real point of this post: #quakebook.
Out of that desperation was born an idea, in the shower of Our man In Abiko. Germinated on Twitter and assembled with a speed and tenacity that defies belief. The very creation of the thing was a joy to watch, as it unfolded before our eyes 149 characters at a time, and the final result is incredible. This is not just some charity book. The works in here are touching and empathic, they will transport you through those dark moments of horror and back into hope for the future of this beautiful nation.
What can you do to help? Well you can buy a little slice of hope and beauty amid the darkness and every penny will go to the Japan Red Cross. Every penny will help.
So go download a Kindle reader for the device of your choice and buy #quakebook (US Amazon or UK Amazon).
This is one of the little aftershocks of March 11th that makes my heart leap with joy, not fear.