The first thing that struck me, as I woke up this morning to the news of Japan's earthquake, was that because of the International Date Line, the warnings for a tsunami in Hawaii would mean that the waves would be hitting those islands at a time on the same day as the earthquake, hours before it actually struck the Japanese coast. That is, they were being warned to expect a tsunami that had already happened a day later, somewhere else. A literal island of the day before.
That sense of watching all of these events unfold at some kind of strange time and space remove from the actual events never left me. Here in the northeast, we are dealing with the after effects of two days of sustained rain, on top of more rain only a week ago. Many of the highways between my house and New York City are actually closed, even this evening. News organziations in the US, and especially on the east coast, struggled all day with balancing major world events and the local business of dealing with closed roads and downed power lines.
In a moment of such fearsome reminders of "nature's fury" and such, it's easy to feel small and kind of humble. Our lives as we know them can, literally, come apart in moments. The earth can move, the water can flood, and lives are completely changed. That sense of sudden disarray is even harder to fathom from the comfort of one's own perfectly fine living room.
It was one of those days when the morning paper is instantly "old news" - I never held onto the newspapers from the morning of Setember 11th, 2001. They were irrelevant by 9 am that day. Today was a similar sensation, stuck as I was most of the day at a job where one can seem especially cut off from love events as they unfold. It's very disorienting. All of this doesn't matter now. The real news is happening elsewhere.
As we go to bed in the northeast, it is midday in Japan, on the day after. We live our lives in the day before, and always have. It's rare for events in the future to reach back and affect the day before. It is tomorrow, Kevin, in a world where we are clearly so all connected to one another, and so humbled by the hugeness of events beyond our control. Our humanity, in these moments, I think, is how blithely we carry on, knowing that we are so small, so ineffectual, and so transient.