In the past I’ve talked about my love of Dan Buettner’s book The Blue Zones, which talks about “longevity hotspots” all over the world. Buettner and his merry band traversed across the planet, from California to Costa Rica, over to Sardinia, Italy, Greece (a relatively new one) and of course, Okinawa, Japan. The folks in these areas are some of the longest living in the world, and something they have in common, besides staying active and eating well, is a sense of purpose and community.
In Okinawa, Japan, that community is called a “moai,” which means “having a social support network” to share life with and back you up when the going gets tough. I can’t imagine the going getting any tougher than it has in Japan in the last week. And for all the people missing or gone, all the tragedy and loss, you don’t hear of the Japanese looting or rioting. There’s no blame of politics or religion. There’s simply a coming together of a dignified people to lean on one another.
These communities or moais, where they exist, are not made up of folks you call on just when something goes wrong. Their relationships have been in place for decades, since they were children. They have known joy together and faced hard times with one another before. They have seen each other every day for most of their lives. Unimaginable. In America, we would think of this as being overcommitted, but the Okinawans know these relationships as the ones they are committed to living life with. Not a burden but a blessing.
Something to aspire to and admire in the quiet resilience of the Japanese. And hey, if a moai kind of community can bring me sweet laugh lines these (above) and let us bear our burdens together, then count me in.
“Carry each other’s burdens…”