Masao Sato was living in Ofunato on Japans east coast the day the tsunami hit. He was one of the lucky ones who were quick enough to get to high ground in time to survive. He was featured in a Channel 4 documentary about the tsunami, and watched helplessly as people died right in front of him. He watched his house be washed away, along with everything he owned. Afterwards he said "We have nothing now, we receive relief supplies", "I do remember that I used to have this and that, but right now I don't think about specific items I want, I just think about things I need, day by day".
Many of us have our own personal tsunamis tear through our lives. They may not all be made of water, but the devastation is the same. When my first marriage broke up, my daughter was overnight ripped out of my cosmology. I would never see her again before I set off for work, nor when I got home. I was obstructed from seeing her on birthdays, Christmas, Fathers Day, and not allowed to ring her up and talk on the phone. All the belongings I had worked for so long to acquire were suddenly no longer around me, they were in the family home I was still paying for, yet not allowed to go to, for fear I would upset the new guy my wife was trying to win over. For Claire when Rick was struck by Leukemia, overnight, nothing else mattered as she gave her all to being there for him and fight his cancer together.
We quickly learn in times of crisis, that 'things' do not matter. Belongings are just things you can do without. So many scurry around year after year in a panic, to own property, a shares portfolio, the latest mobile phone, designer labels, the latest model car, more property, taking out all sorts of insurances to feel safe. When we have to face reality, possessions aren't important. When our lives are ripped apart we suddenly realise we never really needed them anyway. We were conned by peer pressure, made to feel inferior for not having the biggest house, the newest car. We had paranoia pumped directly into our homes and minds by advertising telling us we were irresponsible if we didn't have insurance for our car, our home, our belongings, our jewellery, our flights, our holidays, for being sick, for our pets and for our lives.
These crises bring tectonic shifts to our outlook on cosmology. The events are messengers reminding us what is really important, and what is not. It is up to us if we listen, or not. When we do we are changed forever, and for the better. We no longer care about 'things', possessions or belongings. Now we care about helping others, kindness, consideration, empathy, and Love. Those are the things that do matter. It just takes a tsunami for a lot of us to realise.