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November 8, 2012

By Jacinta Hin

On most Fridays I join a weekly anti-nuclear demonstration here in Tokyo, the place where I have made my home. We are protesting the restarting of nuclear plants in our earthquake-prone country, and for our government to adopt a zero nuclear energy stance. 

I have stood with my fellow protesters through the hot summer nights, through all of autumn, and still continue to stand now that temperatures are dropping and the cold winter is not far ahead of us. The number of participants, over 100,000 at the heydays of the demonstration, has dropped steadily over time. Streets in the demonstration zone, once packed with protesters, are now half-empty.

Walking home from the protests I pass by restaurants and bars filled with people who don’t seem to share my nuclear concerns.  These days I sometimes feel discouraged when I think of the declining number of protesters and the long road ahead for our movement. Sometimes too I feel tempted to abandon this struggle. After all, who am I to even think I can help change my country’s energy outlook?

At such moments I remind myself that what I am experiencing is normal, not a sign that I should actually give up this effort.  Almost every person engaged in the anti-nuclear movement, leaders and participants alike, must now and again experience similar feelings, these times when we feel completely overwhelmed, when we feel so small and powerless in the face of the magnitude of what is required to create change out in the larger world we inhabit.

Yes, feeling overwhelmed comes with the territory of engaging in these larger issues. It comes when we start caring about issues bigger than our immediate concern with ourselves, it comes whether we just follow the news with more than usual attention or are called into action.

In the same way, when we open up to our heart’s anguish and desire and take the leap to a new situation, we may experience a range of emotions and encounter numerous challenges that could very well throw a once peaceful existence into turbulent disarray. As a consequence, we are bound to have moments that it all feels too much. While the old terrain is slowly crumbling to pieces and our feet have yet to find new solid ground, is it any wonder that we sometimes feel completely lost, unsure of why we wanted to leave the familiar ground in the first place and uncertain where we are actually heading?

Wouldn’t it be nice if at such moments we could simply cease all effort and struggle, and sleep while still moving forward toward our goal, to simply wake up one day to a dream fulfilled, to a new reality firmly in place, to the news that the movement we have been supporting has just announced that it is disbanding, because all of its goals have been reached?

In other words, would it not be heaven to simply arrive at our destination without making the journey?

Unfortunately that is not the way it works. We have to do our part. We must make the journey, one step at a time. That’s how we grow and change, both as individuals and for our society as a whole.

Overwhelmed – this is part of the process, a symptom of waking up.

Sometimes we might literally need a brief rest, or a break to rethink our goals.  At other times we just need to take a deep breath, and send “overwhelmed” on its way, remembering the bigger picture and the fact that this feeling is nothing more than a down moment on the journey of change.


LABELS:   Cause   Change   Emotions   Journey   Ovewhelmed   Personal Growth  
About the author: Jacinta Hin was born in the Netherlands and has been living in Tokyo, Japan, since 1989. Her professional background is in human resources, career management and coaching. She is passionate about helping people, herself included, discover new perspectives of possibility, move to embracing and working with their transitions, and designing and realizing changes aligned with who they truly are and what they truly want from their lives.
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