On March 11 a devastating earthquake hit Japan, generating a tidal wave that wiped out a huge swath of Japan and caused damage as far away as Oregon and California, hitting Hawaii on the way. In Maui, the wave was expected to arrive at 3:30 in the morning. I was staying in a high-rise condo in Kihei, which is right on a fairly sheltered beach, with my son and baby grandson who had already gone to bed.
The first warning came in an email that evening from a friend who lives uphill in Maui, at which point I turned on TV to see non-stop coverage, which primarily kept repeating videos of extreme destruction in Japan. Every half hour or so, the reporter would almost reluctantly switch out to a scientist who explained that, because of the way the earth’s crust had shifted in this quake, the big tidal wave would be the one moving west into nearby Japan. The one moving east, on the other hand — going over 3000 miles of ocean before reaching Hawaii — was only expected to produce a surge of 3-5 feet above normal.
This scientific prediction was easy to miss on TV, because it was given hardly any air time and absolutely NO emphasis. Also, when they mentioned that the wave would hit the Midway Islands (where there is a U.S. military base) hours before Hawaii, I logically figured out that they were going to be able to get a fairly exact reading by what would be measurable at Midway. I don’t think this logical conclusion, which calmed me greatly, was mentioned by the reporters at all!
Anyway, it seemed obvious that even 5-foot higher waves would probably not touch the Mana Kai building — which is about 10 feet above sea level and built like a rock. And we were on the 7th floor after all. Besides, I knew the scientist would be able to predict exactly what to expect way ahead of time. So, I committed myself to only pay attention to relevant information for the rest of the night — a difficult skill to practice in these days of information overkill (even more so when blaring sirens are going off).
Still, it was not an easy decision. There was constant external pressure to react, to DO something. Should I wake up my son and grandson so we could try to drive up to higher ground in the middle of the night, like some of the 5-star hotels were forcing scared tourists to do? The news was incessantly alarmist, the images of Japan horrifying, the building staff rang our doorbell at 1 am, tsunami warning sirens blared all night, the staff then called our landline at 2 am. I didn’t answer.
By then, I had made my decision — with the help of logic and I Ching divination. Divination is about perceiving what is real, seeing through appearances. It is a tool to help us see more clearly by stimulating our higher intuition, so that we are able to make better, more balanced decisions. I had to make a judgment call about the reality of the danger level, which is super challenging when the imagination is simultaneously being fed horrific threatening images. And, adding to the pressure, my decision was not just about me, but for my family too.
I decided to track the wave through to Midway before deciding to go anywhere. I also considered that even if the wave were 10 feet high, the wisest thing to do might be to stick it out high up on the 7th floor of a very strong building, rather than wake up the baby and possibly get stuck in a dangerous traffic jam after all. Also, I did some calming breaths while consulting the I Ching (online).
I put my faith in logic plus an activated intuition — which is the “enlightened decision making” approach that I teach at the Divination Foundation. I made my decision using both left brain logic along with right brain intuition meditating on what is real.
I didn’t get much sleep that night — hardly anyone on Maui did (except my grandson, who benefited greatly :-). But my enlightened decision making skill got a little stronger through practice. I felt affirmed by what the Visionary I Ching told me “The ability to maintain stillness and composure in the midst of a chaotic world is a noble-hearted achievement.”