In the first week or so after 3/11 I felt a strong sense of togetherness in Tokyo. It felt as if our urban egos had taken a backseat and we were truly united as one through our common experience. Despite everything that had happened and the ongoing and unfolding horror, for me there was also much beauty in those first days.
By now, three weeks later, I can see plenty of pesky egos, including my own, back in their saddle. Egos that tend to play tricks with our well-intending minds and like to move our attention away from that sense of union and back into one of separation.
My own inner wannabe queen keeps urging me to put my own needs above that of others and take care of my own business first. At the same time she decries me for being selfish and doing so little for those in need of help. She wonders why I’m not already out there, up North, making myself useful, dismissing that what I do from a distance as second rate at its best.
She’s one noisy and bossy wannabe queen.
But when I tune in to the voice of my soul the story changes. I hear that every act counts, that every drop of help makes a difference. That whatever the form, whatever the quantity, it all comes from the same source and goes to the same cause.
I’m reminded there’s no us and no them. That I should not waste my time feeling small compared to the people on the ground working day and night to make sure food and other daily necessities reach the shelters and evacuation camps. That I should not have any judgment about the ‘panic’ people who, fearing nuclear harm, left the city in a hurry, leaving us, the stayers, behind. I’m even reminded that ‘those’ Tepco people and other ignorant and arrogant bureaucrats and officials never mend any harm and are just as worried and focused on getting the situation under control as the rest of us.
My soul furthermore tells me that, instead of giving in to those conflicting polarizing feelings, I should get back to that sense of oneness. That strong feeling of community and communication I had in the first days after the earthquake hit. And that instead of wanting to do a thousand different things at the same time and support every organization with everything I have, I should find focus and act from there.
We have much work to do and many choices to make. We have to find common ground, agree on common goals. Be one voice, for a renewed soulful Japan.
So I set new intentions. To let go of resentment. To feel powerful again. To know that any voice and any form of contribution matters. And to believe, without doubt or confusion, that my own voice and my own modest contributions matter as well.
No more separation. No more confusion. Back to unity and cooperation. Back to being grounded in what I can do, as my part of a bigger whole.