“Bloom Like Flowers”

There is more than likely not one person who hasn’t heard of the disaster that has befallen Japan recently. An 8.9 earthquake triggered a tsunami, which has created more destruction than the initial earthquake itself. 1,000’s of lives have been lost, villages have been destroyed. Like the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004, which was the worst tsunami to date, people’s sense of comfort and normalcy has been changed forever.

My heart is with those affected by this disaster. I could never imagine something like this, but the fact of the matter is, we never know. The Earth does not discriminate and a natural disaster of this magnitude can happen anytime, anywhere.

Here on Cape Cod we don’t have to worry about earthquakes so much, but we do get the frequent hurricanes and we deal with blizzards on occasion. In 1991 we had one of the more destructive hurricanes to hit the area, Hurricane Bob. While the loss of life was minuscule compared to other tragedies, for a small community like ours it was crippling. We only have two ways to get off of Cape Cod, and they are bridges. Before Hurricane Bob hit, there was an 11 mile back at the Sagamore Bridge. People were panicked and there was a good amount of disorder. In the end, we bounced back, as communities usually do after dealing with disasters.

I was reading Marguerite’s post over at Mind Deep, titled “Up In Flame” and was humbled by what she had to say. She creates a small list, which we Buddhists are good at making, but what she says at the end is truly striking, “You and I are on shaky ground, literally, and figuratively. A most uncomfortable place, and the source of much suffering. And why we need to keep on practicing to free ourselves from the prison of conditioned happiness.” I don’t think anyone could say it better.

There are tons of things we take for granted every day. Our false sense of safety being the largest of them all. It’s not just a natural disaster that could strike though. It could be a car wreck or a fall down the stairs. We could be out to dinner and find ourselves choking, gasping for our breath. You could be out at the grocery picking up some milk and find yourself in the middle of a hold-up and the next thing you know you’ve been shot.

While some of those might be extreme, like a natural disaster, we never know when we are going to be faced with such adversity. It’s important that we appreciate every single moment of our lives, especially this moment right now.

Hug your children.

Tell your significant other you love them.

Let your family members know how much they mean to you.

Be grateful for everything you have in your life, you never know when it’ll be gone and the opportunity to appreciate it will be lost as well.

Thich Nhat Hanh said “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” It is my hope, that offering our presence to Japan, they will be able to “bloom like flowers” and they will bounce back from this.


  1. Things like this sure do remind us of who and what matters most. The trick, I guess, is to cultivate that awareness on a moment by moment basis in times of less suffering as well as in times of crisis. Great post — full of compassion, which is just what we all need. The Japanese most but this has shaken us all (no pun intended).

  2. Beautiful post Nate, I cannot even imagine what people in Japan are going through. We create a world that is anchored in a false sense of security, then a disaster happens and we do not know what to do or how to respond.
    Our lives are very fragile and that makes every moment we are alive the more amazing. Instead of chasing “extraordinary” achievements, we need to ground ourselves and understand that just the act of breathing is something extraordinary, love is extraordinary, being present for the world is extraordinary.
    My heart goes to the people that are facing this disaster.

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