Tuesday, this week, was one of those days.
I, like the rest of the world, woke up to the worrying news that another reactor had blown up in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant. Then I got on my bicycle and cycled to yoga.
During the lesson I upended myself into a shoulder lift, and wondered how many Japanese were doing yoga or something similar when the earthquake struck. I got myself down and heard a commotion in the corner. A fellow student was lying prone, her friend holding her arm, clearly greatly concerned. Swift action was taken. An ambulance worker arrived, and the rest of us were sent to wait in the changing room. A few minutes later our teacher came to tell us the student had had a stroke, and was in the process of being taken to hospital.
A stroke? My God, this student was only a couple of years younger than me. She did triathlons and Iron Man events for fun. Before the class she told me she was looking forward to training for a cycle and swimming marathon. Just listening to her made me feel exhausted. Now she was on her way to hospital, with one side of her face paralysed, and her husband and children about to go into emotional meltdown.
I went home to listen to the news. It was worse than breakfast time. Japan’s power station was under increasing threat of nuclear meltdown, followed by a bulletin about the Middle East metaphorically doing the same. What, I thought, is happening the the world.
An hour later, I found myself holding the hand of a friend as she sobbed about the sudden meltdown of her marriage. My friend’s despair reminded me of how dreadful my own early 40s had been, and how lost and alone I had felt. But on this particularly Tuesday, these multiple crises, global and personal, present and past somehow made more sense. Meltdown is what the universe does, as it develops, expands and changes.
As I recalled in my previous blog, Japanese Shinto Versus Man-Made Nuclear Horror, BBC’s wonderful Professor Brian Cox in his current television series on the Wonders of the Universe reminds us that we are made up from atoms that come from the endless life cycles of stars, which have been evolving since time began. Evolution happened on our planet because the Earth’s environment has been constantly breaking down and re-forming since it formed. Human beings have developed because of this explosive evolutionary process.
On the other side of the world a terrible natural tragedy, made worse by the threat of nuclear disaster, is forcing humanity to re-form its respect for the awesome power of nature. In the Middle East, people are willing to die in their attempt to re-form how they want their world to be.
Close to home, my fellow yoga student has no choice but to re-form her relationship with her body, and my friend will need to do the same with her marriage.
However painful and unwelcome these collective or individual meltdowns and re-forms may be, they force us to evolve into different states of being. But unlike inert inanimate interstellar matter, we have the gift of human consciousness. We can do things differently. If we chose to learn from what has happened, great things materialise to make our lives and our world a better place.