Letter From Japan

Last week a friend sent me a letter written by a woman who lives in Sendai, Japan, hard hit by the recent earthquake and tsunami. At the time of writing, she was staying at a friend’s’ home, huddled in one room to keep warm at night and eating by candlelight. During the day, they helped one another clean up the messes in their homes as the earth trembled, sometimes every fifteen minutes, sirens blared and helicopters buzzed overhead. Yet there was no looting or pushing in lineups. “Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is okay. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help.” And there were touches of beauty, among them the silence in the streets with no cars and clear skies at night “scattered with stars…I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled.” She also noted the “strange parallel universes happening around her: “Houses are a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs.”  Rather than despair, the events as they were unfolding made this woman “feel as part of something happening that is much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, yet magnificent.”

What struck me about the writing was its clarity, insight, and authenticity. The writer was witnessing what she saw and expressing her feelings, opening to the larger truths of the situation, which offered a different perspective than what I was seeing on the news night after night with clips on waves crashing houses, buildings and cars swept away, and then radiation in the food and water.   

What also struck me was that in the middle of these catastrophic events this woman took the time to write the letter, which has touched the lives of many people, given that it was shared from email to email. We never know where our words will end up. Our only job is to write them.

Shortly after receiving this letter, a note from a friend: “There is no time to avoid what really matters,” which has inspired me to offer a special spring package called “Writing What Really Matters.” This eight week online course will include weekly exercises to help you write what is most important to you and shape it into personal essays, articles, poems, short stories, or other pieces (ten pages of writing). It will also include a number of bonuses, such as recordings and a package on how to open deeply and move through writing obstacles ($249; value $300). The course will start May 1, so if it appeals to you please let me know within the next week, given that there are eight spots open.

 Many Blessings,