Any time a natural disaster hits—and this year the Pacific Rim has been struck with a vengeance—heartbreaking, intimate stories of survivors fill the lives of those who choose to listen.

But I dread the numbers more.

While the stories speak overtly of pain and suffering, the numbers are more detached. Their job is to detail with as much precision as possible the growing toll of deaths and injuries, of days without basic services, of homes and businesses lost, of gaps in local and international resources, of projected time and money to rebuild, restore, recover.

And they do their task well, those numbers do.

They create an understanding of scope and scale that can’t exist otherwise. They serve as markers for comparison, both for what has been and for what will come. And no matter their intent, they transform emotionless digits into a story that seems destined to sound one devastating note over and over again.

…I need a break from numbers that sit alongside tales of pain and devastation, so I’m taking a moment to appreciate the way they help us navigate, orient, declare, and achieve our missions…

(top to bottom: Labeling a fire hydrant with pertinent details; calling out a construction date in Astoria, Oregon; tagging a lamppost Lucky #7 on the Pismo Beach (CA) pier; helping an old VW bus get from here to there; serving as a touchpoint in Mt. Angel, Oregon)

5 Responses

  1. Gorgeous photos as always, Vix.

    The stories coming out of Japan are both heartbreaking and uplifting. As a society, they seem to have extraordinary reserves of resilience.

  2. Thank you Vix for this posting. I need it, too!

  3. Pseu—

    You are my designated Glass Half Full reader, and you are right that there are some miraculous and uplifting stories as well; thank you for the reminder.


    You’re welcome, and I have to thank you for your recent posts…your ability to capturing beautiful moments leaves me smiling when I most need it. [Or even when I don’t!]

  4. Yes, when numbers as large as this are attached to a disaster of this nature, they can quickly become totally overwhelming…

  5. Ms EO–

    I keep feeling that way about the scope of the (multiple) recent disasters. Thanks for stopping by.

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