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"We are alive"

Eleven years later I remember the great disaster in Tohoku, northeast Japan, when a great earthquake erupted in the ocean sending a huge tsunami to ravage the coast. The destruction was brutal and survivors were left with the challenge of grieving and moving on with their lives.

When I visited the area some time after, the people I met left a lasting impression. I wanted to know how we live after such a wound. How do we recover from tragedy, from painful loss, and sorrow? When life is too cruel, why do we not give up and die?

On the television yesterday a reporter asked an elderly Ukrainian woman how she endures the loss of her home, the bitter cold, the hunger, the horrors of war all around her. She smiled and said, “What else can we do? We are alive and we have to keep living.”

And so the people of Tohoku have said to themselves, “Shikata ga nai” – nothing can be done about what has happened, so focus on what can be done within the limitations of what is now. Life goes on and we must live. Let's find meaning in doing our best with each other's help with what we've been given.

We find the courage to go on in sensing a purpose in our lives, however small that might be. We go forward, together with others, relying on each other for support. And, if we’re able, we keep faith in life, believing that in some way we can’t comprehend, life is worth living, there is peace inside and outside us and beyond this world.

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