When Your World Turns Upside Down

When Your World Turns Upside Down

Portland JACL Newsletter: May 2011 Issue
(click here for the latest issue)

Board Member’s Message
by Diane Akasaka

When Your World Turns Upside Down

On Friday, March 11, 2011, the world for thousands in Japan turned upside-down.

I know many of you have read this article I’ve included. I felt it was worth printing, in hopes that we would learn from our neighbors to the East.

The following blog was written by a woman in Sendai, Japan. She eloquently speaks of the love that emerged from a challenging condition:

A Letter From Sendai

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We have supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another".

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, or intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains of Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me.


Ten things to learn from Japan:

1CalmNot a single visual of chest-beating or wild grief. Sorrow itself has been elevated.
2 Dignity Disciplined queues for water and groceries. Not a rough word or a crude gesture.
3 Ability The incredible architects, for instance, buildings swayed but didn’t fall.
4 Grace People bought only what they needed for the present, so everybody could get something.
5 Order No looting in shops. No honking and no overtaking on the roads. Just understanding.
6 Sacrifice Fifty workers stayed back to pump sea water in the N-reactors. How will they ever be repaid?
7 Tenderness Restaurants cut prices. An unguarded ATM is left alone. The strong cared for the weak.
8 Training The old and the children, everyone knew exactly what to do. And they did just that.
9The MediaThey showed magnificent restraint in the bulletins No silly reporters. Only calm reportage.
10The ConscienceWhen the power went off in a store, people put things back on the shelves & left quietly.

If only we, as human beings, could learn from Japan.

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