I started compulsively reading The Washington Post online the morning of September 11, 2001 in my office in Northwest Washington, D.C. After the attacks there were the anthrax letters and the snipers. My office was only a few miles from my home, but it was across the Potomac River. I used to fantasize about how –if Chain Bridge were blown up–I could swim across. I didn’t need to resort to that and things returned to an uncomfortable new normal.
The last few days, I have been reading the paper compulsively again. Sure enough, almost every time I log on, there is a new red (or sometimes black) breaking news banner. I am resolving to control myself. Tom and I plan on going camping tomorrow.
Since I came to the United States in 1903, I saw, faced, and heard many struggles among our Japanese Issei. The sudden burst of Pearl Harbor was as if the mother earth on which we stood was swept by the terrific force of a big wave of resentment of the American people. Our dignity and our hopes were crushed. In such times I heard the gentle but strong whisper of the Sequoia gigantean: “Hear me, you poor man. I’ve stood here more than three thousand and seven hundred years in rain, snow, storm, and even mountain fire still keeping my thankful attitude strongly with nature—do not cry, do not spend your time and energy worrying. You have children following. Keep up your unity; come with me.” So, in the past, all such troubles moved like a cool fog. —Chiura Obata, 1965 (Topaz Moon 111) (from the museum label adjacent to Glorious Struggle and also quoted in Untold Stories from America’s National Parks by Susan Shumaker)