Archive for March, 2014


Today is the 3rd anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that happened on March 11th 2011. It’s something that’s very close to my heart because I spent some time in Japan and have many friends there. After the disaster in March 2011, I went to the disaster zone for 3 weeks to help as a volunteer and met with many of the evacuees who lost everything – loved ones, houses, prized posessions and much more. It was a life changing experience that I’ll never forget.  I wrote about it and talked about how I met Akasaki san and the resilience he displayed in the face of such a tremendous tragedy. Today I read the story of Yasuo Takamatsu san who became a diver and till today continues to search for his wife in the sea 3 years from the disaster. His story brought tears to my eyes which says alot because I’m very seldom moved (I guess abit weird for a counsellor) and till today he is searching for his wife to bring her home. In one of her final moments, Takamatsu san had received a text from his wife saying that she wants to go home. 

3 years on and while some have moved on to a fresh start in life, many are still staying in temporary housing. Children, in particular, are displaying signs of post traumatic stress disorder and parents are anxious about their future in a town that are still rebuilding. Kind of makes me feel abit that the stuff I worry about from day to day are so mundane and so very trivial. You know how I always have some kind of a teaching point in every post but today I’m not sure what it is that I’m trying to convey here. Perhaps to a certain extent, I’ve been emphasizing so much on resilience and grit that I tended to gloss over the true suffering that comes with a tragedy like that. Or the true suffering of any tragedy or setback that you may encounter yourselves. Perhaps we now live in a culture where it’s more popular to ask someone to chin up and move on (all hail positive psychology!) and gives little to no space and permission for one to grieve over lost relationships and lost hope.

That said, it struck me that Takamatsu san (our diver pictured above) can pick up diving at age 57, don a dry suit and jump into the freezing waters of Tohoku for 3 years now and continue to maintain hope that one day he will find the remains of his wife (no mean feat really, speaking as a fellow diver who mainly dives in the tropics and still find the water cold). That, and the fact that Takamatsu san was no athlete before this and was just a humble bus driver.  I searched for an adjective to describe him and tried to steer away from the usual ‘resilient’ word but could find none that would encompass all the courage and love he embodies to do what he does. 

Here’s offering my sincerest hope that he will one day indeed find his wife and bring her home and also hoping that the hearts of many wounded in the tragedy of 2011 will find small pieces of healing with each passing year.