As the news from Japan continues to get worse, there was today a small glimmer of light. Among the thousands of iReport viewer submissions turned into to CNN, was the story of Zack Branham and what he did for the one he loved.
Branham, a 24 year-old American lives in Japan and teaches English to local school children. Teaching abroad has become more popular with college graduates as it provides the opportunity to fully experience another culture and contribute to it. In Branham’s case, it also meant he experienced the harrowing trembling felt throughout Japan on Friday when the quake struck.
Branham survived the quake but it was not his survival he was most concerned about. In a segment on CNN, Branham says the first thought that crossed his mind was whether or not his girlfriend had made it through. She was also a teacher but in a coastal town far away. With the tsunami striking after the quake, Branham took off in the direction of the thing that most people were running from. The sea.
Branham spend that night and the rest of the following morning trying to get to his girlfriend. He walked with his worn shoes over blocked roads, fallen debris and dark roads. For 20 hours, he trudged through impassable roads until he finally found his girlfriend. She had survived relatively unscathed and was in an administrative building using torn pieces of linen to make bandages for others.
Hearing Branham’s story can remind us that there is still such a thing as epic, big love. Moreover, it shows us that that kind of love does not just happen to anyone, it happens to people who are trying. The part of Branham’s story that gets me is not just how he walked 20 hours to the sea, it’s about the girl who loved him enough to believe he would be okay and help those who weren’t.
So much of the conversation around relationships often uses the sacrifice as the sign. For example, “I want a man who will be romantic with me, who will make time for me.” These are perfectly valid feelings, but they are the components for want not love. Love is, as this couple shows, about two people who understand their purpose and are willing to include others to be a part of it as well.
As we think about this lover’s tale, maybe the question we need to be asking is not “Who will walk 20 hours for me?” but rather “who would I walk 20 hours for?” Today, as we walk into a world where you have to fight for an inch, choose to walk miles for someone even if your heart says there’s no chance. Because love doesn’t just come because we want it, but because we are willing to give away pieces of that big epic love we can’t stop looking for.