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Everyone Has Their Own Earthquake

Updated: 2 days ago

More than a month has already passed since I’ve come back from Noto. I still have mixed feelings about the experience. But before reading further, have you watched the documentary? If not, stop here and go watch it now. This text will make more sense afterward.

My Goals Were not Altruistic

The trip to Noto was a strange experience. The documentary shows our personal growth and there’s a clear character development: at the beginning, I’m portrayed as a selfish piece of shit. I left Tokyo with the goal of making a documentary about Noto, solely because it was a “hot topic.” I knew it could potentially attract tons of viewers and give us a career boost. I was 100% cynical about the project. I didn’t care about volunteering, nor I was attached to Noto in any way. I barely knew about the Noto at all.

The first time I heard about the place was when Tommy made his own video about it. And when the earthquake struck Noto I was in Thailand, and I didn’t even bother to check the news. This is who I am. So yes, I didn’t go to Noto to help anyone, but myself.

My Brain Could't Process What Was Going On

Then I arrived in Noto. I saw the disruption. And it was awesome.

The cities were deformed. Buildings were squeezed, roofs laid on the ground, cars had exploded, stairs standing in the middle of nothing, light poles were bent and roads cracked so deeply you go inside.

I thought I was in an anime, and I’m not saying this as a metaphor. The scenery was so surreal, that my brain could not keep up. I actually thought I was staring at a drawing, a world made of computer graphics.

I Got Scared

When I finally realized that everything around me was real, I got scared. Very scared.

But don’t misjudge me, my fear was selfish. I didn’t really care about the people who lived in Noto. I cared only about myself. I got scared because of one single thought: death will come.

Sure, an earthquake is an unexpected catastrophe that hits thousands of people at the same time. But it’s only one, out of the many forms death can take. You do not need to be hit by a tsunami to experience death. Death will come no matter what you do or where you live. One day my family will die, and I’ll be alone. It could be cancer, it could be a virus, it could be a car, it could be a hitman, it could be anything. My sadness and my fear stemmed from the realization that everyone will experience their own personal earthquake. You will have your own tsunami and it will drown you. It is just a matter of time.

I Cry out of Selfish Fear

This was what I was thinking while crying like a baby in the video. That scene is embarrassing. And not because I don’t want to show myself crying. I like crying. It’s embarrassing because it shows my narcissism. In that scene, you see a person who consciously chooses to point the camera at himself while he’s crying. While I was filming, for a split second I questioned my own mental sanity. It’s hard to draw a line between pathological narcissism and passion. But, as my friend Francesca told me after watching the video “albeit showing yourself crying was a very gay choice, it was a powerful scene.” You need to be a bit gay -i.e. in love with yourself- to be the protagonist of your own documentary.

Changes Happen Slowly

This is who I am. I wish I could say this experience completely changed me and made me a better person. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Revolutions don’t happen in a day; it takes time to change.

I know I’m lucky. Out there, there are people struggling to survive, there are people fighting for their lives, there are people who lost everything they built. And yet I decided to point the camera towards myself. I’m not going to dedicate my life to all these people. Sorry, I won’t. The world is full of sorrow, but I will keep caring about my own little garden. Does that make me bad? Maybe.

But I believe one can do good in the world while being selfish.

Let me be happy before I get crushed by my personal earthquake.


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