Last night, Japan was hit with an earthquake that measured 8.9. To get an idea of what that means, the most widely accepted measure of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake was 7.9. This is what it looked like:
Mind you, a significant amount of the difference has to do with what came next. In San Francsico, the earthquake was followed by a fire. Last night’s earthquake in Japan was followed by both multiple fires and a tsunami. That tsunami energy has swept across the ocean and hit as far away as Santa Cruz, California this morning. Pretty much the worst damage there today has been a few damaged pleasure boats and at least one sunk. Not pleasant, certainly, but far from the horror of people swept out to sea, buildings demolished, thousands stranded in the streets, and pretty much the entirety of Disneyland Tokyo submerged.
And so I find my mind turning to origami cranes.
Nobody knows for certain the true history of the senbazuru, the thousand paper cranes, but at least since the end of World War II the story has been told over and over as an ancient Japanese custom that to fold those cranes will earn the folder a wish. Sort of like wishing on a star, but with more effort on the wisher’s part.
I don’t know if it will do any good, but I find myself organizing to head out to my local crafts store in search of origami paper. My feeling is sort of like the one expressed by Craig in this entry at Senbazuru, the blog in which he discussed the senbazuru project for his cancer-stricken mother:
I don’t believe in magic. I don’t believe in homeopathy. I don’t believe in holistic healing. I almost don’t even believe in vegetarianism. And yet, here I am, with a bunch of people — many of whom don’t even know my mother — toiling over a mysterious effigy, the existence of which likely will produce no discernable improvement in the health of a cancer patient.
That’s a pretty cynical view. And, if that’s how you look at it, that’s probably all there is to it.
On the other hand, the creation of a senbazuru is about much more than the folding of 1000 origami cranes. It’s about the planning, the process, and the people involved. The end product is actually the journey itself.
I don’t believe in magic, but I do believe in the human spirit. I do believe in honoring those in difficult situations. I do believe in keeping my hands busy so my mind doesn’t come unglued with grief and frustration. I believe that this will give me something to do until I have something more profound and useful to do.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually come up with a way to make my seriously awful paper cranes be into the thing I can usefully do. Probably not. I suck at origami.
If you want to join me, I found excellent and clearly photographed instructions for folding origami cranes here.
May your cranes look better than mine!