Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Under the board, there is hell.

One of the things that really surprises and impresses me is the resilience of people who have been afflicted by the tsunami disaster. In particular, fishermen and their families seem to have a philosophical resignation for whatever the ocean inflicts upon them.

A few weeks ago, I was visiting one of the most severely damaged areas. I talked with a boy who escaped up the hill behind his house. From where he was, the ocean could not be seen. His grandfather happened to be standing at a place where the sea could be observed, and yelled out that the tsunami was coming. The boy and grandparents fled, grabbing weeds, treading on rocks and boughs, escaping for their life.

Fortunately, they could make a narrow escape. The water came to up the boy's foot, and the waist of grandpa, as then the tsunami began to recede. They stayed in the mountain overnight, shivering in the cold. The next morning, the rescue and relief came.

When I asked the boy if he wanted to live near the sea again, he said yes. Considering the flight that he had, and the complete destruction of his house, this answer seems surprising. But then the philosophy about the ocean is deeply different. His father is a fisherman. A fisherman's life is in and from the ocean. A fishermen faces the forces of mother nature. That's is the name of the profession. Nature is usually benevolent, but can become quite savage from time to time.

Among the Japanese fisherman, there is a saying "under the board, there is hell". Below the safety of the board of the ship, the vast ocean is lurking, which can become brutal at any moment, and when that happens, there is no resisting the unleashed energy. Humans are at the mercy of the forces of nature, ever since the beginning of time, now, and in the future forever.

Under the board, there is hell. This philosophy of fisherman is probably true for all of us, even in the bright lights of civilization. We sometimes forget that.


Unknown said...

Although it may be a philosophy that is foreign to many of us, the outlook for those who accept what is given to them is so much brighter.

yuka-tanaka said...

Encoutering this Tsunami disaster, many people might feel we all are just a part of nature.
Yes,nature is our mother.
She would give birth, but she would also get away lives.
And only she, herself can accomplish them without any accusations.

(ma)gog said...

Since I was a child, maybe since I was four or five, I have always anticipated the disaster caused by an big earthquake.

Indeed, it is not exaggerating to say, this anticipation has played an enormously big role in characterizing my personality.

Growing up in Tokyo with this psychological pressure makes you realize how feeble we human beings are before "the mercy of the forces of mother nature", and at the same time we become humble and naturally get forced to learn the sense of resignation.

The story of the fisherman would be the story of myself tomorrow. The anticipation since my childhood is still there and will always be there.