Now And Then: Winds never rest and touch us all

"A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache…"

— Catherine the Great

A young friend recently posed the notion that "wind never rests." Although contextually Kieran's statement was in response to an unrelenting wind on a Baja beach, his words have proven prophetic with events that have shaken the world from Japan to Laguna.

Globally, the great tsunami that struck Japan has left many of us astonished at the devastation viewed in real time. Personally, I have pleaded with my sister, Linda, to flee the twin radiation risks of exposure carried by a restive wind and now invading the tap water in Tokyo and surrounding environs.

Although Linda remains skeptical of the public safety efforts being undertaken by the utility and government, she cites the twin precepts of "giri," duty to her husband's family in Japan to remain together, and the chilling Japanese belief of "shikata ga nai," meaning "it can't be helped."

This form of fatalism has allowed the Japanese to maintain dignity, even during times of unspeakable tragedy.

What struck me was her comment that even though uncontaminated bottled water was in scarcity, there was no hoarding by the Japanese. The explanation was simple: Even though they are panicked, they bought only what they needed each day, so that "others could have some, too."

The wind stirs public safety concerns on the other side of the Pacific Ocean as well.

In a City Council compromise based on safety, skateboarding will now be regulated in Laguna. As a lapsed and failed skateboarder myself (note, I did not say an old skateboarder), I am not as passionate as those who share opposing views. However, the rhetorical question arises: Does public safety trump personal liberty?

Does the notion that "maybe" a safety issue could occur on the high school track (none have occurred in 60 years) warrant public-use restriction on a publicly funded facility?

As a Laguna Beach High School graduate and longtime resident, I have always viewed the track as a community facility, understanding that the high school would always have the right to utilize it first for student activities. But now I'm considered a potential threat?

The same wind filled the sky with smoke over Thalia Street recently. Ever vigilant, Deputy Fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse spotted and averted a potentially dangerous fire. Saved were friends Gene and Judy, and their home. The public at large thanks Gene for taking the time to put on his pants, prior to retreating to the safety of the street.

Kudos should be given to the Design Review Board, for supporting the efforts of the Laguna Beach Fire Department to thin and remove combustible to protect Oro Canyon. Protecting the local canyons from potential, wind-driven firestorms is a public safety issue that must justifiably be lauded.

Although I did not sleep the sleep of an innocent, I dreamt well last night. In my dream, a light wind of freedom swept over Laguna and we all basked in the sunshine. The wind never rests.

STEVE KAWARATANI can be reached at (949) 497-8168 or

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