Water, a substance that sustains life, a resource worth risking lives for. The drip drop of rain hitting pavements, waves sloshing about and hitting against the shore. Water can be beautiful, tranquil.
And it can also be deadly.
The sound of thousands of people screaming and running for their lives as waves as tall as skyscrapers come crashing through the city. Cars, homes and people alike all being swept away by the monstrous tsunami that followed the earthquake that struck Japan in 2011.
Time and time again we are reminded that we are nothing compared to the forces of nature. We continue to thrive and create and force our place in the world, but no matter how far we come, we are at the complete mercy of nature and whatever hand it decides to deal. So what’s the point then? How do we recover when over and over again we are at the constant mercy of tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, and all other natural disasters.
Japan did not cease. They did not roll over and stop living after the tsunami. They looked at everything that had been done before, considered what they had, the things they could’ve done and what could’ve been fixed. They did not settle for being destroyed, and continued to create, to build. They recognized the problem at hand and decide to grow from the things they lacked and work hard so that they could be better prepared for the future.
I have been playing tennis since seventh grade. I always thought I sucked, but for some reason my coach saw potential in me and decided to put me in the higher levels so I could work harder. I was so excited, so happy and ready to work hard so that I could make my team proud. I knew I was never insanely good, but I thought I was at least decent, the wins that I could bring back for my team bit by bit helped reassure me that I was doing right. Maybe I wasn’t that bad after all.
But then came my tsunami, my setback.
Suffering from chronic headaches, finding myself losing game after game, sucking worse and worse practice after practice, frustration, anger, sadness, all of it came flooding through me. Why couldn’t I improve? Why wasn’t I getting results for all the hard work I was putting in? Nothing was changing, I felt like no matter what I did I wasn’t going anywhere. I was still making the same mistakes, I was nearly getting beaten by kids who’d only been playing for a year. I sucked.
I cried from the frustration, worked myself until I was sick trying to get better, but I still came home with no results and nothing but a pounding head. I needed to reassess myself, I needed to figure out why it was like this and what I could do to improve. Time was slow.
So I started coming to others for help. I didn’t quit or keep pushing on my own. I reflected on all the things that I had done well, considered everything that was good, and then I looked at all the bads. I asked people to watch me while I played, to analyze my movements and tell me what I was missing. I stayed back longer, took the extra lessons, asked whoever I could for help.
The thing is, sometimes in life you’ll never know when these things happen, when these setbacks…well, set you back. You can never expect when it’s going to come, you can only prepare yourself to the best of your abilities and work hard so that when something does happen, you’re ready for it.
I’m not letting this setback push me back, but instead I’m using it to bring me forward. I don’t know yet if I’ll get the results that I want, if the work I put in will finally show, but I know that I can try, I can do my best now and put everything I have into preparing myself for what’s to come, and reflecting on myself now, in this moment—just as Japan has rebuilt their community patiently and persistently.