April 12 ~ Notes from Japan #4: Stages of recovery and other wisdom

I’ve returned from a nice long soak in the onsen hotsprings here — in the midst of snowflakes falling on the outdoor pool.  A quieter time, after another day of powerful conversations and deep listening.  This is a beautiful place, with nourishing air and fantastic food.  It calls forth a deep presence in those who visit here.

I want to thank all of you who have sent us support with your words as well as with your silent presence in this conversation.

Meg, the seven stages of recovery were useful in this afternoon’s conversation.  They made sense to people and mirrored their experience so far when they have worked directly in the Tohoku region over the last month.  Yamamoto-san speculated that the gap between the limbo and acceptance stages may be smaller here than in other parts of the world.  Mahoto-san suggested that the collective culture here means all feel the grief and powerlessness — even those far away.

I take words offered today to heart:  Look for the small things and nurture  Help people discover what they have, not focus on what they need.  Avoid grandiosity.  Find the next, elegant minimum step.  Walk with grace.

My work here is mostly to listen.  Sometimes I can make a connection or two.  Sometimes I do provide a bit of nourishment.  I am also called to illuminate what is happening here to my many friends and colleagues so you may join me in this witnessing.  I left the U.S. just exactly a week ago.  I feel like I’ve been here for a long time.

Some of you saw, in your responses, my proclivity towards action.  Busted… It is true, I have been an activist for more than 40 years.  Those waters run deep and I treasure them.  And, of course, I cannot — even in MY wildest dreams — be a problem solver here.  I can show up.  I can be present.  I can listen with my whole heart mind.  And I know my presence makes a difference.  I will support where I can.  And I will stay in questions of importance with the fine people of Japan.

There is a deep story almost entirely invisible in both social and news media.  Powerful forces are at work here.  Part of my work in being here is to share these stories with you.

I won’t do it by e-mail often, and even less often in a public way with “reply all”.  But I felt it was important this morning.  I wanted you to here each others words and observations.

I appreciate your willingness to stand with me and the people of Japan.

These are special and powerful times unlike any I have encountered.  In these many meetings I have participated in over the last month, tears are followed by laughter which is followed in turn by silence.  There is such a collective sensing in here.  A knowing that we are all in it together.

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LEVERAGE DIFFERENCE​



We’re all in this together. Most of us know that our own ideas are only part of what’s needed to move forward.  Sometimes we grudgingly admit that the perspective of another has value. From time to time we remember that unless it works for all of us, it doesn’t really work for any of us.

AND, it is challenging to bring people with different perspectives, experience, values and beliefs into the same room and have more than rhetoric, stoney silence, posturing and mind-numbing arguments.

Communities have diverse, knowledge, resources and capacities. When we bring the people together across difference to share stories and experiences, successes and failures, magic happens. We help people in place-based communities, groups tackling particular issues, businesses and organizations get real with each other, respecting each other enough to share their experiences and their truths without blame or judgement.

We know that most people just want a good life for themselves, their families and friends. Unfortunately, we’re in a time when the knee-jerk reaction is to find someone else to blame for our problems. We’re quick to “other” people and make up stories about those with a different viewpoint. Time to stop that. Time to slow down and listen for a change. We can help.