April 9 ~ Notes from Japan #1: 4 Days in Japan

I arrived Tuesday night.  On wednesday i had my first meeting, with about 6 people i know pretty well.  it was the first time any of them has shared their own inner turmoil since 3/11.  ALL of Japan has been affected.  of course, the deepest disaster is in the Tohoku region and I have not been there yet — and don’t know if i will go there.  I won’t unless there is a specific reason to be there.

Wednesday night we had about 80 people together in the first Japan Dialogue event. same as with the afternoon, it was the first time most people had an opportunity to share their inner experience.

Tokyo is quieter.  there is a subdued energy here. people sensing that everything has changed now, and they are still not sure what now is. Normal is gone.  Forever.  And what exists now is a blind spot, waiting to be visible.

The change is an energetic one. And I’m not just talking about the lights turned off everywhere and the rolling blackouts — although there is also a dramatically shifted sense there too.  People  saying things like “we have less energy and life is better now.”  Or “I’m spending more time with my family and my sense of what is important to me is different now.”  there’s a sense of wanting new indicators for success.  We’re even talking about Gross National Happiness as a measure — something almost unimaginable in Japan before 3/11.

Let me share one image from a couple of days ago.  I was in a meeting with many 35 business people in Tokyo. The three hour meeting began with a very cautious kind of energy.  It was also the first time this  group  had been together since the disasters started.  By the time we closed, there was a real excitement in the room.  I sensed in to what the excitement was really about.  The image I shared was that the disasters have liberated us from a future we didn’t want to have, AND the future is no longer something distant, it is here, now.

Now I am at Kiyosato with Mt Fuji on the horizon.  A small group of 14 people gathered to sense in to what is important now in Japan.  I’m honored to be here.

i’ll get more coherent in a few more days.

With love,


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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.