I interviewed Janice and Chi many years back when I was working at the Chinese Daily.
It was like an ordinary interview at a new restaurant. But their story was anything but ordinary.
Chi followed Janice on a mission trip to Ishinomaki. Then Janice was in the doldrums. Chi a workaholic put everything down and followed his wife to Ishinomaki.
For the record, Ishinomaki in Miyagi, Japan was one of the coastal cities that was hardest hit by the tsunami in 2011.
Chi hadn’t come from a well to do family . All this life, he was conscious of making enough to feed his family. So when he decided to put down work, it was for his wife, I remember Janice said, “he said, whats the point of earning so much money if my wife is unhappy?”
That trip changed his life.
“People over there, they lost everything. But they can still smile. It makes me wonder–Why are all these people behaving this way? But if you trust that tomorrow will be better, then it will be better! It’s the perspective of how you look at it. If you keep on worrying, everything will not turn well, because fear, or I use the word worry, is paying the interest that is not due.
Actually it may not happen but our fear cripples us, make us dare not move on, make us think we are only this small or we can only do this much. Or I’m not in the capacity to help someone, to listen to someone.”
When he came back from Ishinomaki, he was born again.
“After I went to Ishinomaki, I came back and I do not know how to move on. I really want to do something, I have this voice very clear that restaurant shall be called Ishinomaki. That’s how the whole thing started.
And I tendered my resignation a few days later. Without even knowing what is the next step—because this is the first time in my life I felt I hear something from God. I have never has this kind of feeling, when I look back, actually God is preparing me all the way. This is no coincidence, I let go everything. When I went with my wife, I just let go everything. That trip really woke me up.”
We maintained contact all these years, little did I know that I would have a chance to make a video out of this, and to come to Ishinomaki to see for myself the Ishinomaki that changed peoples’ lives.
What is the meaning of letting go? like Chi said? I tried to imagine.
He said he felt very sure and was not afraid at all.
I think it means to rest and be at peace. To be so comfortable so loose that you can not control.
He said he was used to thinking and living in a state of lack, even if financial conditions were okay after having worked.
“But when I was young, I was worried about lacking.”
But he agreed that after letting go, abundance came in.
We visited the Nozomi project one evening. Womenfolk were congregated into a safe space whereby they did handicraft work, putting together pieces of pottery that was found in Ishinomaki after the tsunami.
Sue who gave birth to this project and is still tending to this today after 7years say, there can be beauty in brokenness.
“We are all broken within ourselves, but in here, from here, is where beauty can be found. She found it a privilege to walk with the women here, mostly single mothers, and to listen to their amazing stories and strength.”
I was touched by what I heard. I loosened up and my voice shook. But I also observed myself thru the process, I was merely listening but not opening myself up enough to this experience. I was pretty closed.
I tried to open myself up and that was when I felt warm and was moved. I was trying to make sense of this feeling. That tight closed up feeling. Rigid and unmalleable, why?
I couldn’t really figure it out. Was it my fear of death? It doesn’t feel complete or perfect and it felt like I didn’t want the incompleteness or imperfection.
Like this place couldn’t really penetrate me.
Sue shared this story of jewellery pieces made out of pottery, being organic and not symmetrical. She once had a discussion with the women who made this and they say they want to make it symmetrical because they didn’t want to remember the tragedy. So they named the collections after their loved ones, who are washed over.
Sometimes a question pops up and there are tears which go into the jewellery.
After a while, the womenfolk told her they wanted to make the pieces organic again, and Sue says it shows about the healing they have received after all this while.
I find myself a little opaque to these.
Maybe I felt the lack as my family was broken, I didn’t want the echo…..or hear any more of these echoes of brokenness. I just didn’t want that memory of wretchedness. Aye yes it reminded me that I have something I need to work on within myself.
Broken myself inside, and I havent even addressed it. I didn’t really wanna open it up to peek into there.
And I haven’t found a way to asking these people about this state of wreck. How do I approach them or rather my own story or memory of wreck n lack?
But hearing these stories made me understand about strength. The sake brewery owner said he was so blessed to be alive, he was inspired to start another sake brand.
I wouldn’t be able to understand how folks here could go back to school too after the tsunami. But Sue said there’s an urge to go back to normalcy.
Somehow I get the idea or grasped the concept of strength. Drawing out inner strength from the depths of—perhaps your soul.
I sort of watched my own emotions then and slowly softened at certain points. It was as if something melted, my voice shook a little. Sue teared.
Its time to open myself up to the brokenness in me.
就像Sue昨天讲，我问她，怎么在自己藏了很多起来背负很多之后还说，it’s a privilege to be walking with them
还有Chad说，a lot of times it’s not what we do or what we bring that helped
It’s our presence
存在 开放 地活在当下
Looking at the sea.
That which brought abundance can actually be the very sea that takes the abundance out of your life.
But the sea may not be the one to be blamed
And looking at it. It seemed so wasteful to hang on to the old. Not just memories but old attitudes practices habits systems
The sake owner and the young man who started Fisherman Japan, both said that after the tsunami, they felt inspired to do something having grown up here. Just simply that they are alive.