Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Ride the Wave

How do you ride into the wave in hard times? Reflections on the story of Susumu Sugawara, which I posted yesterday, about the Japanese fisherman who piloted his boat, Sunflower, right into the oncoming tsunami, survived, and ever since has been using the boat to ferry people, medicine, and supplies:

1. Don't attempt to flee. Head right into the thick of it.

2. Even though you're overwhelmed by your opponent, neither fight it nor capitulate to it. Find a rhythm with it and hang on.

3. When the onslaught ends, take a while to get your bearings.

4. Make your way back to familiar shores.

5. Reach out and help others using what you've brought back.

(Image above is "The Great Wave of Kanagawa" by the 18th century Japanese artist, Hokusai)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Heading Into the Tsunami

Susumu Suguwara
was in his fishing boat, Sunflower, when he saw the tsunami racing toward him. Instead of turning back to shore, however, Suguwara did just the opposite. Saying a silent goodbye to fishermen in the other boats he passed and offering his apologies for not being able to save them, Sugawara headed for the wave.

"I talked to my boat and said you've been with me 42 years. If we live or die, then we'll be together, then I pushed on full throttle."

The fisherman was inundated by the thirty-foot wave, but when the water had slipped by him and he saw the shore, he knew he had survived. Four or five more waves followed, but in the end, Suguwara and his Sunflower were intact.

In the weeks since the earthquake and tsunami set off physical, emotional, social, and economic aftershocks in Japan, Susumu Sugawara has been working to transport people, supplies, and medicine to people. He charges no money for his services.