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A letter from Japan

We all have large natural events take over our lives at times. San Diego residents are not immune. Witness the Cedar Fire of 2003 that took several lives and burned hundreds of local homes. Then again the Witch Creek Fire of 2007, in which more homes and people perished. Here at the Airport Authority, employees responded to the fires by providing extra assistance to passengers stranded at the airport while smoke filled the skies and many areas of the county were inaccessible. More recently, we were rattled during Easter dinner in 2010 by the 7.2 earthquake centered in Mexicali.

Even the current disaster in Japan has touched our shores, in the form of a tsunami advisory, high surf and very low levels of radiation from the damaged Japanese nuclear reactors. While we have locally been spared the extreme devastation now afflicting Japan, we all have a common understanding of the overwhelming force of such events.

Here is a small email from Japan that I became aware of recently. It was written by an American English teacher living in Japan and appeared in Ode magazine. Perhaps it can help remind us that, everywhere, there is a collective and inspiring human response to natural disaster:

Hello my lovely family and friends,

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 share 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 a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

It’s utterly amazing that, 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 many more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of 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 is much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and love of me.

With love in return, to you all.


6 Responses

  1. What a beautiful email. The world can learn much from the Japanese people.

  2. Thanks for sharing this heartfelt letter from Japan. It’s truly a testament to the country’s wonderful, sharing and caring people.

  3. I received this email a while back and honestly was able to relate to the story. It reminded me of the Typhoons I experienced while living on Guam. No running water, no power, shortage on gasoline, batteries, and sometimes just the simple things we take for granted every single day. Neighbors would come together and unite to help each other out. There was silence in the air with the exception of neighbors sharing their experience. There are no greater words to describe the feeling of togetherness, other than being blessed to experience such love and compassion during devastation and destruction.

  4. Thanks for sharing. This is what I believe life should be about all the time. Love and Charity. It’s wonderful to know that in times of crises the true human spirit shines through.

  5. Great story! thanks for sharing. Japan is an example to all a great reminder to love one another and to be grateful for all the things we are blessed with. Please donate and pray for all those in need!

  6. What a heartwarming letter. Who would have thought such beauty could come out of such turmoil and devastation? It is a valuable reminder that the compassionate human spirit is the first thing to arise in a time of desperate need. We should be mindful to allow this natural human reaction to enter into our daily lives on a more regular basis.

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