Through all the holiday giving, receiving, cheer, poignancy, warmth, angst, and yearning, I always remember the true tale of my friends, whose lives were saved by their intuition. It’s now ten years since the tsunami in the Indian Ocean unimaginably and tragically took the lives of over 230,000 people on the day after Christmas 2004.
It was an intense time for me and my family. During Thanksgiving 2004, we’d almost lost my youngest daughter, Nadine, to a mysterious illness, which had just been diagnosed as cancer a few days prior to the tsunami. I was living in my sweet Berkeley, California, house that Nadine had found for me in 1993 after meeting the owner, Michael.
A builder and woodworker, Michael had been going to Thailand over a few years to study with master carvers and in search of true love, which he found. He married Jiab, a native of the beautiful, popular resort island Phuket. Each year they’d spend from around Thanksgiving to February there.
On Christmas morning, the day before the tsunami, they were taking their regular early morning walk on the beach when Jiab said “we have to leave.” “What?” Michael replied. “We have to go. Something’s not right. We must head inland right away.” Michael agreed, and they did. Early the next morning, when the earthquake hit the Indian Ocean just off Sumatra, and the tsunami barreled through Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and eleven other countries, my friends were long inland.
Jiab had saved their lives by listening to her intuition, as did Michael by honoring her. She knew the spirit and vibrations of the world around her and trusted that something was different and unsafe. Had he poo-pooed her intimate knowing, or had they not acted on it, their lives might have been lost with thousands of others.
I always remember this dramatic instance, feeling with it the import of their choice points: Jiab had an intuition and listened to it. She trusted her inner knowing and its urgency enough to tell Michael, who listened to her and trusted her knowing too. And, importantly, they took action on it. Without acting on her intuition, they would have been walking on the beach when the tsunami struck.
How many times do we listen to that still small voice, those flutterings in our chest or stomach, those messages in our mind that tell us something is wrong or right? How many times do we discount those feelings as paranoia or wishful thinking or make ourselves wrong because we think we’ve blown it, only to find that a deeper meaning, purpose, or lesson was at play? How many times do we “get a sense” and later realize we were on to something all along, and if only we had . . . ?
Sometimes we react in all those ways because our inner knowing has been socialized out of us, by our culture, society, family, or peers, or we’re ridiculed, harassed, or stigmatized for using it. Sometimes using our intuition seems to get in the way of more practical plans or duty or commitments, or it just doesn’t seem to make sense at first glance.
I’m not implying that those who tragically lost their lives weren’t using their intuition or those who lived did. I have no way of knowing, and to assume so would be superstitious. I only know the stories that affect me, but I’m sure there are millions of them about the tsunami and everything else, especially around disasters or tragic events.
As hippies we used to call it “feeling the vibes.” These days I also pay attention to how intuition lives in my body, which for me includes the weather and my environment. Sometimes it’s just about silly stuff, and other times it’s serious.
What arises when you get quiet, align your head, heart, and hara (your gut), and ask yourself, in the bigger and smaller picture, what do I want in the coming year and what do I want to let go of from the past year or era? Take several deep breaths and let your body answer.
I wish that for you too. Thank you for all you’ve been and contributed to me and the world in this past year on this life’s journey. Happy holidays and here’s to a fabulous and magical 2015!