Anniversaries are odd things, for weeks I’ve felt the presence of this day approaching like a dreaded examination or the promise of a storm. I knew that the moment of anniversary itself was likely to be tough, and it was – the memories of that painful day washed over in that minute of silence alright.
Today at 14:46 I stood under the Alta screen at the East Exit of Shinjuku station. It was a beautiful spring day, fresh and sunny, just like last year. When I hurried past there on my way home last year, the crowds were watching the first of the waves strike. Today we were watching the Emperor and various dignitaries at the National Gallery leading a minute of silence.
While today, and that minute especially, was full of sorrow, it also feels like perhaps we have passed the worst of it and that the deepest of the pain is beginning to dissipate. I hope that’s also true for the families whose lives were devasted by the tsunami. Today my wife and baby were with me, so our tears were chiefly for those families that were sundered forever.
The waters today have cleansed, not destroyed.
The storm has passed, and we’re gonna be OK.
I’ve been playing a new game recently and the results have been very interesting. The game was inspired by reading a random article from the Art of Manliness blog about the importance of eye contact in establishing and maintaining trust and cooperation between us humans. Like many of us from the geek end of the social spectrum, I really suck at it.
So the game, which can be played whenever you are walking through your neigbourhood or city’s streets, is designed to build confidence in making eye contact and give you an amazing new perspective into the lives of the people milling past you who would otherwise be just another ghostly pair of shoes.
The rules are simple:
- As you walk along, make sure you are wearing an open, friendly expression on your face.
- When you are about four paces from someone you are about to pass, look them in the eyes.
- Note that this does not mean a lazer gaze that will melt a hole clear through the back of their skull; eye contact means looking at each eye in turn taking in the brow and bridge of the nose as you pass gently between.
- Whatever the reaction is, enjoy it.
- If they return your gaze, do not flinch away. Smile.
Four paces is plenty of time to exchange a glance and a smile and to get a fleeting but meaningful glimpse behind the masks that people usually wear.
Playing the game for the past couple of weeks has made feel much more confident about making eye contact. In fact, it has simply made me feel more confident all of the time. Now that I’m over the initial hurdles, I’m beginning to wonder why I was so shy about this before – this is a behaviour I have known I needed to improve for a long time but never before looked the problem in the eye.
I’ve been doing a lot of interesting reading recently in a bid to continue improving how I go about living my life. There has been a fair amount of pay-off from the changes I’ve been making over the past couple of years, between marriage, a baby and of course the move to Japan!
Among the various sources of inspiration and advice I’ve been following is the excellent blog of Sebastian Marshall, a most fascinating chap who is pursuing the goal of becoming the most skilled strategist of our era. A lofty goal, but one I have little doubt he can achieve. I had a most interesting discussion with him on Skype last week about Eastern vs Western mentality and business practice that was illuminating.
Sebastian encourages his readers to make contact with him and many good articles and pieces have come out of that, so I decided I should also step out of the shadows and get in touch, hence the reason I ended up having a call with him. His review of what I’d written in my email was very positive too, so positive in fact that he decided to publish it on his blog.
In that article I mention a few items I have been reading and would like to give a slightly broader review and pointers on each of them…