The earthquake yesterday in Northwestern Japan, which has so far resulted in 9 known deaths (possibly more to come), fills me with the feeling that I'm playing Russian roulette by continuing to remain in Tokyo. Everyone talks about how Tokyo is "overdue" for a "big one" and I always believe that's a bit of nonsense since mother nature doesn't work on a schedule.
When it comes to nature (or even life in general), anything can happen any time but nothing "has to" happen at any particular time. I think that the sort of people who enjoy talking about how Tokyo is overdue for a devastating quake are the sort that smile just a little and experience a thrill when they hear there's been a bad car accident nearby. Some people really just love the excitement that comes along with unusual and unusually bad news which isn't going to affect them.
However, it is a fact that anyone living in the "Ring of Fire" is gambling that a truly horrible earthquake isn't going to come her way. That doesn't mean I'm going to run off and escape "the big one" because the truth is that a natural disaster can hit anyone anywhere anytime and what will be will be. When I lived in Pennsylvania, there were floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. In fact, I saw a real twister in the distance when I was a child. It didn't come too near our house but tornadoes are very unpredictable and can move erratically and demolish one house while leaving neighboring houses standing. You don't know where one will touch down and for one to be close enough for you to see it is a pretty intimidating experience.
Anywhere you live, you're gambling that the natural events which are capable of occurring in that area will not happen to smite you. Even before we lived in dwellings that were big enough and heavy enough to fall and kill us, our ancestors were dying from various natural disasters. Archaeologists speculate that the Olmec civilization was ultimately consumed in a flood. Pompeii was famously destroyed by a volcano which had been dormant for so long that the people who lived near it didn't even suspect it was going to erupt despite there being early signs that it may happen.
The thing about gambling is that it's always more likely that your prediction will not happen than it will. Would you bet your life savings on the possibility that a certain number between 1 and 7,300 would come up on a wheel during a given spin? Twenty years in Japan is 7,300 days and you're betting your life that a huge earthquake that could kill you isn't going to occur. That's a pretty safe bet and odds are that the chances of a hugely devastating quake are far lower than 1 in 7300.
Note: To those who have kindly inquired about our well-being after the quake, we were too far away to be seriously affected though the quake did result in some spooky long-lasting swaying. Thanks for your concern and thoughts. It's very appreciated.