Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nature's Pernicious Power

Georgia O'Keefe - Black Mesa

As usual, I am woefully late to the partythat is, the celebration for National Women's History Month. But to tell you the truth, I haven't felt much like writing. My mind has been hyper-focused on the natural disasters that literally swallowed much of Japan, and the ensuing meltdown at its nuclear power plants that is sure to have horrific lingering effects.

Maybe it seems so surreal that I'm not yet able to wrap my mind around it. I have read that the earthquake was so large that it may, in fact, have shifted the earth’s axis four inches, and the main island of Japan eight feet. I simply cannot fathom the enormity of these earthly violent convulsions, nor can I imagine the monstrosity of an ocean swell that sweeps away entire towns. Not even as I watch the constant, streaming video of these images can I believe it. I'm beginning to feel like a grotesque voyeur, helplessly viewing someone else's nightmare.

But Japan's nightmare belongs to us all. It reminds us of the fragility of life, of our inability to ever have complete control over all things. We may be able to predict certain Acts of God, and perhaps even mitigate some of the damage, but domination of a force of nature is unlikely. As the disaster deepens, and radioactivity from the second most-dangerous leak in history threatens to contaminate Japan's food-chain and water resources, there will be far reaching consequences. 

Myourdeepest sympathies go out to the Japanese people. There are ways, though, for us to help. The American Red Cross is accepting donations to aid Japan's earthquake and tsunami victims. You can also donate via text message: text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 for the Japan earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. Also, The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund has been launched by Global Giving. Its funds will be distributed to a variety of relief organizations helping victims of this disaster. 

Pondering all of this during a month that celebrates women's history in America, I think of Georgia O'Keeffe, who revolutionized modern art with her vivid paintings. Her work is pure, stark and startling, evoking the power and emotion of the natural world. Much like Mother Nature herself.

O'Keefe- Red Hills with Flowers
Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small - we haven't the time - 
and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time. 
~ Georgia O'Keefe

March 16, 2011 UPDATE:  Some amazing bloggers are organizing to help the people of Japan. Rach (from Rach Writes) spent a year living in Japan, and has teamed with a group of writers who will soon be holding an auction to raise funds for those affected by this disaster. If you are interested in participating, please visit Rach for more info on WRITE HOPE for Japan.


  1. Lovely written. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones and their homes.

  2. Your words echo my thoughts. It's so hard to watch those terrible things unfold, yet even harder to look away.
    Today I saw a video of the waves overtaking a village. The camera cut briefly to a group of young girls crying with fear as they watched boats, buildings and cars being swept past them.
    In my world, nobody cries alone. If you cry, I cry too.
    Until I saw those girls on the video, I had remained at a steady level of "just horrified." Once I saw tears, I lost it.

  3. A beautiful country in the throes of suffering and loss. So very tragic. You make excellent points here, Jayne, about mankind's over-inflated ego and Mother Earth's humbling power. I wish we didn't have to wait for something like this...or Haiti...or New Orleans to come to realize it.

    Wonderful choice of Georgia Okeefe and her quote. Amazing artist, amazing woman, amazing human being.

  4. What a beautiful and evocative post Jayne. The painting is lovely, and does highlight what a tremendous force Mother Nature is.



  5. Thank you for sharing with us your compassionate thoughts and call for support. Your timing is perfect.

  6. absolutely Jayne - I considered blogging about Japan but the enormity of it all is still hard to comprehend. But you've summed it allup rather well here..

  7. Beautiful post and lots to think about. The pictures and tales from Japan are so heart-wrenching.

    Thanks for stopping by and for becoming a follower. I can tell you are my kind of groovy gal.

  8. I find the whole event scary. Unfortunately, I don't think it is finished unfolding yet, with the nuclear reactors and all. Of course, how this will affect world economies is only a guess.

  9. I haven't written about Japan because I have absolutely nothing to say. It's quite rare that such a thing happens to me. Words just cannot describe the images I've seen, it's terrifying.

  10. A very poignant post Jayne and such well considered and beautiful imagery to accompany your words too.

    It's almost impossible to believe that such a thing actually happened. I can't begin to comprehend the enormity of it.

    But you're absolutely right - we can help. As you say, 'Japan's nightmare belongs to us all.'

  11. Starlight- I think the whole world is in shock now, and praying for the people of Japan.

    Nessa- I had to turn off the TV -which is ordinarily never on. We've had two days of heavy atmospheric weeping, and I get the sense that there's a greater force behind it -- the entire universe cries for Japan.

    Lord Wellbourne- Indeed, humbling. This will stay with us for a long time to come. Fortunately Japan is more prepared for these disasters than most countries. Yet, still, the destruction left in the path of these disasters is unimaginable.

    Rach- Thank you. I've added to this post, as update, information on your WRITE HOPE project to aid Japan. I hope everyone who reads this soots over to see you. :)

    Shopgirl- I only wish that there had not been need for timing.

    David- There really are no words. Words can't adequately express how we're all feeling (which is why it took me some time to compose this post), or the agony of the people in Japan. We're left with only helping as best we can.

    BBetty- Heart wrenching precisely!
    It's good to meet you - I look forward to getting to know you!

    Michelle- Just horrible, and Japan was beginning to bounce back from years of stagnant economy. My father spent time in Japan, and I remember how fond he was of those people. The devastation is unspeakable, but I pray they and their beautiful country heal soon.

    Christopher- You got it! And you can write - but this disaster is absolutely terrifying, and mere words seem inadequate. We can all help, though. If we all texted just ten bucks a piece to ARC, we'd have a pretty nice sum to donate to Japan.

    SF- That's right, we very much live in a global economy now, and what happens half way around the world still has a profound effect on all of us. The amazing this about technology is that the entire world can quickly be involved in helping out those in need. Hope everyone contributes whatever they can to help support the people of Japan. :)

  12. Jayne,
    Your comments on Japan's disaster mirrors my feelings. Thank you for this thoughtful, and honest post.

  13. It is hard to even get my mind to absorb what has happened. My heart goes out to everyone over there or touched by it in any way.

  14. Jayne, thanks so much for the shout-out for Write Hope. I'm hoping we can raise a lot of money - we've got heaps of wonderful prizes already :)



  15. Beautiful and honest. I wish I could write something about Japan, but I could never find the words. Thank you for the beautiful images which have found a place in my mind where I can go when I need to escape. And it's wonderful that you have reached out by telling others how to help. I wish I were seeing more of that on facebook than postings of horrific pictures and videos.

  16. Whoa! You have really gone the juxtaposition so well here, good post. Yeah I am kind of overwhelmed by the whole Japan thing as it came in hot on the heels of the earthquake in Christchurch in NZ just a few hours away from me.
    Thanks for articulating some of my thoughts in such a well structured piece...

  17. We're witnessing a fierce battle between Nature and the monster created by man, Nuclear Power.
    The first victim is Man. The next victim will probably be Nature itself as the Nuclear dust contaminets everything, and gradually destroys the universe.

  18. What a powerful, moving post dear Jayne. I'm having quite a hard time with this as well, especially the children.

    Now Georgia O'Keefe; WOW, one of my hero's. Need I say more?! :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  19. Leah- Yes, I can't imagine anyone not feeling the shock of this. It has the weight of all the recent natural disasters whirled into one.

    Debbie- Same here. Still can't digest it all.

    Rach- My pleasure. Anything to help.

  20. Lin Ann- So true! There's been rather disturbing and macabre updates on FB. I mean, the disaster is disturbing enough - it just strikes me odd that people want to keep reposting these horrific video and photos. You'd think there are better ways to optimize social media!

    Dan- Seems like it's one disaster after another. Is this global warming, or just totally random events, or the natural evolution of the earth? Who knows?! Stay safe down under. ;)

    Duta- It's a battle for sure. I'm going to think positive though, and will the universe into healing itself (with the help of its inhabitants, of course). :)

    Jules- O'Keefe's one of my hero's too. A true pioneer woman. We need strength and vision like hers in times like this.

  21. Very tragic, and though I love a good laugh, it's amazing how many people are already cracking jokes about this.

    Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Japanese, as well.

  22. oh, how i love georgia o'keefe. her work is particularly poignant in light of what nature has demolished half a world away. wonderful post.

  23. if japan has cut a few corners on maintenance and safety i shudder to think what is going on in the balkans with their nuclear power plants.

  24. Jayne, your post parallels my thoughts. Over the last week blogging seemed irrelevant to me.

  25. Beer- It never takes long for jokes to follow a tragedy. I think it's human nature to use humor as a coping mechanism, but tasteless jokes... pretty daft and callow.

    Angela- Thank you. O'Keefe had such a connection with nature - I wonder how the recent chain of natural disasters might have affected her work.

    BP- You raise a good point. I am amazed that any country would choose to build nuclear reactors along major fault lines. But there are more than 440 commercial nuclear power reactors operating in 30 countries. How many of those are built on or near fault lines?

    Antares- Yes, it does seem irrelevant doesn't it? Crises warrant a certain amount reflection/introspection. I'll bet most people felt the same way. But getting back to the cyber journal (or notepad) sure helps a writer sort it all out.

  26. Jayne, yes, writing offers more focus. Writing journals, one of the best inventions of all time;)

    And paint...