Standing in front of these leaders in Tokyo all of a sudden means nothing to me. These leaders worry about delivering their quarterly goals or hitting their budget, while I'm worrying about the lives in danger in Hurricane Sandy. It's not the fault of the leaders in this session, they are far removed from the threat, as am I. But the threat is still too close to home for me.
As Hurricane Sandy barreled up the coast of the US, I was settling to facilitate a leadership workshop here in Tokyo. I hoped the forecasters were wrong and that Sandy would benignly head out to sea. But I was wrong and as Sandy took her westerly turn into New Jersey I began to worry. What happened to me was a a quick prioritization and a powerful reminder of what is important.
My first concern was that all my family and friends were safe. Though I knew none of us would be at home in Asbury Park and my parents were safe in Virginia Beach, I thought of all the friends I have in Asbury Park many of whom were still there as the storm hit. During every break I search the internet for news of how the storm is affecting the city.
So far, all my friends are fine and I believe the worst is past. However then I have my second level of concern. Is the house okay? When you purchase a house as close to the ocean as ours you always think of the worst case scenario and then hope it will never happen. The house was a dream come true. Now I await news about whether that dream was damaged or swept away.
Yet in all of this I can't help but reflect on the wake-up call that a storm or natural disaster brings. Immediately we realize our priorities. We seek safety for our loved ones and friends and then we secure our possessions. All of the small details that regularly clog our day and blind our vision are gone. In that minute of high wind, everything is blown aside and we see clearly.
So I pray for all those in the path of Sandy and I hope they are safe and their homes secure. Yet I also hope we hold on to this moment. Now is when we realize who and what is important to us. Perhaps we can learn to carry that with us rather than wait for the next disaster.