Watching the tsunamis roll in was one of the worst things I've ever seen in my life.
The image that sticks now is the one of cars, fleeing along roads with the water and debris chasing them down, moving faster than a car ever could and gaining on them so fast, and then you just see a couple of the cars being swept away before the camera moves away.
I keep thinking, what would that be like? Driving as fast as you can, to save yourself and your family, knowing there's nothing you can do, no-where you can go... glancing over your shoulder and seeing the water bearing down on you... looking around at your wife and kids, and knowing you can't save them, and all you can do is hope....
I watched that with tears pouring down my face, feeling utterly helpless and very very tiny.
I keep seeing people now asking "Why? Why is this happening? Is Mother Earth angry at us? What have we done to deserve this?"
The answer is -- nothing.
This planet is not a safe known quantity, under our control.
We barely understand the basic workings of climate, weather, and geological events.
The Earth has always been in a state of constant change, and it's a little foolish to assume that it would stop all it's rumblings and lie quietly just for us.
Whether or not you believe that man-made climate change is affecting us, our Earth goes on in exactly the same way as it always has. Events may be strengthening, and becoming more frequent, and there may be reasons for that which have nothing to do with us. I'm no scientist and I'm not pretending to be.
What I do know is this.
You can't take anything for granted in this life.
You can wake up in the morning, happily married, and by that night, be a widow.
Your house can burn down, be washed away, or blown apart by a cyclone.
You can lose your job, your livelihood, your life savings, in an instant.
Your ducks-in-a-row-life is an illusion.
When my son died, so suddenly, I felt like everything I'd ever taken for granted was a lie.
It was like having the rug pulled out from under my feet.
That's a metaphor we use without thinking about it, but take a moment to imagine what that's like, when things are so unstable that the things you take for granted can't be trusted.
Flooding, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis -- they happen. They've always happened. They will continue to happen.
I'm not dismissing them or their effects on people.
My mum and sister were in Cyclone Yasi.
I have friends in Christchurch.
I have a friend in Japan and I don't know if he's alive.
These were horrific events, each of them, and they devastated people, countries, economies.
All I'm saying is, we can't take it personally. The Earth is a planet, not a pet.