I watched with deep sorrow and horror as the events in Japan unfolded. An 8.9 earthquake and unstoppable tsunami ripped through large cities and small towns. It was heartbreaking to watch. The massive upheaval of human life, families displaced, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and children devastated by the loss of loved ones. Far more precious than the property damage is the physical, mental and emotional damage that they will need to recover from. I’m not sure how they will rebuild again, the destruction was palpable. But it made me think, not about the fragility of life. Although, one could meditate on the personal implications of living life with purpose and integrity. No, I began to think about my lack of awareness.
Many times our lives are filled with busy work. Busy working, climbing, achieving, building what we may define as a life filled with accomplishments that we hope will lead to our sincere satisfaction. But I wonder how we would fair if it was all erased by forces outside our control. If we experienced a “life-quake” of massive proportion, that shook us to our very core, rattled us until we were left to question our very reason for being.
As I travel through life I’m slowly learning to become more aware, more informed about the plights of others, the struggles of people who may not be in my immediate circle of family or friends. How long after the sound and news bites fade will we remember the people in Japan, Haiti, the people still displaced from Katrina, the families that have experienced the economic tsunami of the past few years? Will we move on to the next cataclysm only to have it temporarily stun us long enough to give pause for a few moments, or learn that apathy is no longer an appropriate response? Not only should we empathize and respond on an intellectual level, but more importantly pay it forward.
Life is bigger than the microcosm we may choose to live in. We are all connected. Its bigger than the latest gadgets, the latest clothing trends or even the latest celebrity meltdowns. We tend to celebrate frivolity over seriousness. At one time or another we all will experience a “life-quake”, something that has the potential to rock us deeply and make us reassess our values, our thought process and possibly our lives. I know, It happened to me. I’m learning day by day to cut through the superficial and think through the bigger issues, I’m learning to appreciate things of enduring substance over surface, I understand the need to kill my apathy with empathy, to take action. I’m becoming more aware.