"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Keeping On

Last night I lay awake thinking about various and humbling new realizations, some of which were influenced by reading your many comments following my last post. I realized I was lumping too much together instead of being thoughtful. I was channeling pain instead of tempering it. Then I knew I don't get to choose. I am meant to keep writing.

An apology. I never meant to imply that the books I have written are not useful. I am proud of my books. I consider the time and money extended by anyone who has honored me by purchasing one or more of them, well spent. I am sorry if I offended anyone by linking my doubt about being blog-worthy to your good sense about reading and learning from me. Please forgive me.

So I will keep writing, and I thank you for your expressions of concern and also your hard knocks on the head. I don’t think what I felt was cynicism; more like a sort of despair about where Art and making fit in. About relevancy. Your comments buoyed and surprised me, and since I am a big girl, I will pull away from any sort of poor me mentality that might have infected my thoughts and my writing. Caroline Myss wrote something to this effect – if you avoid the news, world events, and don’t engage actively with others, you aren’t being who you were meant to be. You aren’t fulfilling your potential.

My potential includes community building. That’s what counts and that’s what we’re doing here. And we’re good at it – as your many comments prove.

Revelations come in unexpected forms. I was listening to NPR and Scott Simon told a story about two dog companions found in the rubble aftermath of the earthquake. One dog refused to leave the other until humans rescued them together. He tied this to the story of a puppy just sold to a private buyer in China for over a million dollars. The breeder called the puppy a perfect specimen. Simon queried, “Of the dogs in the two stories, which really was the perfect specimen?”

Next came a forwarded letter from my friend Edie. I asker her permission to share the letter here and it follows in its entirety, for your consideration:

“Hi everybody,
Today I received an email with this enclosed letter from a Japanese student of Zen now back in her home country. Thought you would appreciate it.

Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,

First I want to thank you so very much for your concern for me. I am very touched. I also wish to apologize for a generic message to you all. But it seems the best way at the moment to get my message to you.

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend's home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line-up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, "Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another."

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on.

But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun.

People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled.

The mountains of Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend's husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don't. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent. Thank you again for your care and Love of me.
With Love in return, to you all.”

Gifts in unexpected packaging. Opportunities to become perfect specimens.

Thank you for being there.


  1. Dear Jane,
    Thank you.

  2. Jane, thank goodness you are back. Many of us need you and I'd like to think that we give back to you in varied ways. Thank you as well, for sharing the touching letter from a Japanese student. There is hope. Love, Pam

  3. What a beautiful letter. I think all of us have been depressed by the suffering we see on TV so what a wonderful perspective from someone there. And I knew you'd be back. :-)

  4. Some things take time to process. This has been an excruciating an surreal time for me. I was to leave on Saturday for two weeks in Japan. My dream trip. Now, I am grieving, not for me, but for the loss of the Japanese people who exhibit such strength in the face of all this adversity.

    I knew you would be back.

  5. just before I realized you had returned I was reading an adoptive mother explore the pain and joy of experiencing the breaking OPEN of her son's heart.
    I am an adoptive mother of a 13-year-old boy with a stone heart. Everyday I witness and share the terror and joy he feels as he learns trust and sharing and reciprocity and interdependence. This child lives with inexpressible rage and fear. Which means, of course, so do I.
    Every morning he wakes up smiling and hopeful. Every morning I wake to find him huddled next to my bed. He can't be alone, he can't be together.
    The serendipitous letter from Japan shares the thought that the world's heart is breaking open. Yes, it is Childhood's End.

    The world is as big as my heart. My heart is as big as the world.

    Thanks for sticking with us. Did you know you mattered so very much to us?

  6. I had no idea. No idea at all. Did you realize how much you meant to me?

  7. You are a teacher as well as an artist. You need to teach and share to be your true self. I'm happy to see you back.

  8. I am thankful:
    For your change of heart. It made my day.
    For the letter from Japan. It is so beautiful.
    For the change in perspective after reading the letter from Japan.
    Thank you Jane!

  9. Jane, I am so very happy to read this post. ,ynheart hurt that you would walk away from art and writing! It's times like these we need arts and we need people like you that teach us and guide us and given us hope! Thank you! :)

  10. The letter from Japan was so heart warming. I hope that we learn this lesson. Not the lesson of preparing for disaster, the lesson of caring for others. I am glad you are back, Jane. You have many talents and one of them is to make us pause and think. Nameste, Jane.

  11. I'm so glad you are BACK! ;-) A close family friend sent me the same letter from Japan (as you have posted) this morning, and as I was still brooding over your last post, I was happy to read what the letter had to say.
    Your Caroline Myss quote is so appropos!

    See you soon!

  12. Today has been a good day and now it has gotten even better. Thank you for keeping on!

  13. Thanks Jane, I am so glad you are continuing, your words are certainly something I really look forward to reading they are thought provoking and informative.
    Thank you for taking the time to build this community.

  14. Thank you for stepping back for a minute and realizing that you've built a community here that would have honored your decision, but would have missed you terribly.

  15. Jane, for another view of the situation in Japan, take a look at the blog Tokyo Bling when you have a chance. The author lives in Tokyo and normally posts photos dealing with art, nature, etc. However, there are posts dealing with the earthquake and tsunami as well. It gives another view and shows that all is not lost in Japan.


  16. Transformations can be painful, be they of the Earth, the individual,or a society. We are here for you Jane as an individual, and through this community perhaps we can ease the pain of transforamtion of our planet Earth and our society. Perspectives such as the one in the letter from Japan give us all hope and inspiration to do our part to help us all get through this.

  17. So glad you are back. You never really left our hearts. Your voice is needed because you have listeners.

  18. Good for you. Welcome back.
    And thank you, for sharing the story and the letter.

  19. Jane, I haven't been on your site for a while but was shocked to read your post about "no more blogging". I am so happy to hear that you will continue. You have a gift and gifts are meant to be shared. This is who you are intended to be and I doubt that your inner self would allow that to stay hidden for long. There is always a yearning to let the gift out.:) Just consider this a moment of retreat to gain prospective. There will always be tragedy and pain. Your gift can help to heal.
    Blessings along the journey, Judy

  20. Hi Jane!

    I'm glad you decided to keep writing.

    Immediately to the right of your post I read your paraphrase of Kierkegaard: "the individual is solely responsible for ...living life fully, despite the obstacles of existence – distractions that include despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom."

    So you were momentarily distracted by despair and angst -- now you're back to living life fully. And we're happy for that.

  21. Your letter and the Japanese letter that you posted exemplify how the world consciousness has shifted in recent times. Hearts are widening and community is our family beyond the four walls that we wake up to. We share pain together, we process and we heal together. I am grateful beyond words for the presence of community and the ability to share our grief, joy and knowledge together as collective components of a much larger whole.
    Blessed again!

  22. Jane,

    Thank you for your decision to return to the community you created and have inspired so many to join and maintain.

    Thanks too, for the letter from the student in Japan. In my relative position of comfort and safety, I am humbled by these kinds of missives from the people affected by the recent events in Japan.

    Each of us is only a lone voice crying in the wilderness, but together we can do great things.....

  23. jane, thank you for sharing the beautiful letter from your friend in sensai(sp?). please keep writing this blog. teresa hays

  24. Thank you Jane. You have something to say, and I want to hear it.

  25. Thank you, Jane. Your work and your words are not irrelevant. Sometimes all we can depend on is beauty and you have always given this to us freely, both visually and with your writing. Much love to you.