Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Nightly Note

First of all, I'd like to begin by apologizing for the lack of a Nightly Note as of late. Try as I might, I've been quite unable to come up with topics I thought were worthy enough for what this little space of the internet has become. I know the original idea was simply to create somewhere that I could dump my thoughts - be it on writing, life... whatever. But somehow I feel as though it's transformed itself into a space for meaningful discussions of life's vagaries as seen through my eyes.

It was with that in mind that I've spent the better part of the last week staring blankly at my computer screen into the wee hours of the morning, hoping that inspiration would strike. Of course it did not. Instead I recently found inspiration where I so often do: in the front seat of my car with the hum of the road drowning out the noise of my day to day.

The day after the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan I set out to write a piece that would chronicle my feelings on what must be an unbearable sadness and unspeakable tragedy. I failed. I failed for a lot of reasons. For one, I'm not that good of a writer. But also because to try and put into words something of such monumental importance seems like an impossible undertaking. After all, as I sit here comfortably on my couch typing away at my computer, a happy fiance sipping wine next to me, I know nothing of the hardships of having your home and all your worldly possessions washed away. I know nothing of the pain of losing a child or spouse or family member.

But for so many people in coastal Japan, this kind of heartbreak and ruin is not a distant idea - something that we try to conceive through minds and souls that can't begin to understand this scale of loss - it's simply reality. For the past few days parents have woken up knowing they'll never see their infant daughter, or their precocious young son. Wives have held onto the air that used to be their husband. Children have wrestled with trying to understand that they can't go home because their home - a bastion of safety where they can escape from all the worlds evils - is simply gone.

The people of Japan have decisions to make that are beyond difficult. No longer will people concern themselves with how to pay rent or make their mortgage payments. No longer will they worry about beating traffic to work or whether they'll have time to get their evening workout in. You know, the things we agonize over on a day-to-day basis.

Instead they'll grapple with far more difficult questions like what do we do when everything we know is stripped away? How do we go on living when all that we had lived for is now gone? These aren't questions of desire, they're questions of necessity and purpose and I won't begin to try and act as though I understand how they ought to be answered. I have no clue.

When tomorrow morning comes and you, my readers, begin to view this post, the people of Japan will be living through day four of their new realities. Ones where they are left with nothing but shattered dreams and shattered lives. The fortunate ones will be those who's families are still intact. That's really all anyone who lived in the effected regions can have at this point. What the fault lines of the Earth didn't shake to the ground in it's 8.9 magnitude earthquake (6th largest in recorded history), the sea either demolished or swept back out into the depths of the ocean.

I know that for me there is an incredible feeling of helplessness. Whenever something like this happens I know I try and place myself into the scenario - I wonder, "what would I do?"

It's an impossible question to answer.

In truth, there is probably little anyone can do. Everything is destroyed. There are no hospitals to treat the wounded, and those that remain in other parts of the country are massively over run. They've literally run out of body bags to place the dead into, even though the search for bodies has really only just begun. Much of the equipment that might have been used to clean up a catastrophe like this is itself ruined. A nuclear power plant is having three of it's reactors are melt down and one has now had it's containment chamber ruptured, releasing tons of radioactivity into the environment. In one of the most advanced industrialized nations in the world, there are rolling blackouts.

When you see the scale of devastation on TV it boggles the mind. It's simply not possible to comprehend that the debris you see all over the ground isn't just small sticks and branches. It's homes and cars and buses and boats and massive ocean going vessels. I mean, look out your front window and tell me if you can imagine have debris like that littered ten feet deep all across your yard. Now tell me how the hell you'd begin to start cleaning it all up.

You can't.

Now imagine it wasn't just on your front yard, but across your entire city. Your entire county or state. Destruction quite literally as far as the eye can see.

No, there is nothing I can say that can begin to put into words the level of devastation that's been wrought. Nor do I have the words to begin to empathize with an entire nation of those who have lost everything.

Yet somehow I know that despite everything that has happened, life will go on. The people of Japan will pick up the pieces and rebuild their great nation. In 1945, seeking an end to a war that had lasted for four years and eager to avoid further loss of American life, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. In the aftermath of that attack, the people of Japan laid down arms and picked up shovels. They began to rebuild. They turned Japan into one of the most formidable technological and economic powerhouses on the planet.

While those bombs were enough to compel the Empire of Japan into military surrender, the spirit of that proud people has never been broken. Now that nature has found a way to make mankinds greatest ferocity seem timid and weak, the people of Japan will again stare down the abyss and see their fate before them. And as they have always done, they will endure, outlast, and out work their challenges.

In the end, they will emerge victorious. Not just because they will rebuild their nation. But because they will refuse to be broken, even when being broken is all that they are. They will remind the rest of the world precisely why they are so deserving of our respect.

Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.

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