We were on the beaches that day, and in
the homes, and on the roads and in the
water when the earthquake and Tsunami
struck. Those of us from one country or
another. Those of us who were rich and
those who were poor. Those who were
educated and those who were not. We
were there, all of us, when the big wave
took over the land. We were together.
No matter how many miles away we walked,
or slept, or stood, we were there that
day when the ocean cast off its
boundaries and exerted its power. It
struck without preference to color, to
race, to personality or profession.
Without thought of our histories, our
backgrounds, our importance or lack of
it. The ocean thundered into our lives,
wherever we were.
We heard about it on the radio, and
witnessed it on television, and read
about it in the newspapers, and we
knew. We knew what they felt while they
were drowning, while they were
screaming, while they were trying to
save one another, while they fought for
survival, while they watched loved ones
die. We felt their anguish, their
pain. Their desperation. They were
children. Our parents. Our husbands
and wives. They might have spoken other
languages and held other ambitions, been
citizens of other countries, but their
tears were our tears and their pain
stretched across the miles and became
There was nothing we could do but listen
and watch and count the dead. And
wonder. How did this happen to us? To
our world? We know so much. Certainly
we have accomplished so much. We are
not the uncivilized people we once
were. Nor the uneducated. How did we
not know this could happen? What secret
had the ocean kept that it was waiting
to unleash? And for what reason? There
is always a reason, is there not?
Every day there were new stories.
Stories of courage. People saving each
other and risking their own lives.
Stories of generosity. People giving
clothes and money and whatever they
could. Stories of anguish and
tenderness as the countless number of
bodies were buried, one after the
other. Until we could not imagine that
all at once, so many were gone.
We went about our lives during the days
after. To work. Enjoying our
families. We shopped at the food market
as we usually did. We needed to know
everything continued as it was before.
That the mail would be delivered. The
neighbors wave hello. The schools
open. We needed to know this.
But nothing really was the same, nor
would it be again. We had been reminded
of our vulnerability. In that moment in
time when the earth shook, when the
waters rushed over the land, we realized
we were not as powerful as we thought.
We did not rule everything. We could
not threaten everything. We could not
claim victory over everything. We
realized, all of us, as if it were one
thought circling the world, that we did
not have control over everything.
Eventually the waters will recede and
recovery will begin. And we will all
return to the separateness of our lives.
Having discovered once again, we can
face whatever we must. Together.