I was going to begin a series on “How to improve your writing”. (Subtitle: things that bug the heck out of me when I’m editing/reviewing.) But then I watched the news last night. I saw that tsunami racing across the Japanese landscape, full of mud, rubbish, cars, sheds, houses, and people… And I find I just don’t have the heart to talk about that right now.

I don’t live near the sea. In this area earthquakes are as rare as tigers in the wild. Sometimes we feel a vague rumble. Once in a very blue moon there’s a definite shake, but that’s about it. I cannot imagine the sheer horror of feeling the ground give way underneath your feet; or having your home or office building suddenly collapse around you; or to see that surging monstrous wave heading towards you, faster than you can run. It’s the stuff of nightmares. Although, it’s great stuff for a novel. (Sorry, can’t help myself.)

The Japanese search and rescue team had probably only just got back from helping the quake victims in Christchurch, New Zealand. Now they’re looking for their own people. How do they keep going? What fortitude; what courage! I was deeply inspired by the sight of Chinese, Japanese, American, Australian and other nationalities, all working together to help the New Zealanders. It was a little picture of how the world could be and, now, we’ll see it repeated in Japan. I wish world governments could learn from this but politics is politics… Shame.

This year we’ve had some serious reminders that life is a precious, fragile thing. How do you know when you’re rich? When you can take your daily routine, your home and your loved ones for granted. But, that perceived wealth is illusionary. It can all disappear in a moment; in the blink of an eye. Treasure the very air you breathe. Enjoy your loved ones, even when they drive you nuts. Do your work as if it’s the last thing you’ll ever do. And be thankful. I know I am.