To see that such beautiful, enchanting creatures live/d among us has got to take your breath away for a few moments. If not, perhaps it’s time to slow down a bit and pay more attention — to the non-human life around us, to their awe-inspiring presence, to their strong yet fragile existence.
heat = challenges, difficulty, struggle
light = hope, fortitude, love
For better or worse, we bring with us our long-held beliefs and lessons from past experiences to whatever we do and whatever we look at. It’s good to know what you stand for, but it’s also enlightening to consider what’s on the other side, if only to see where a different opinion might be coming from and how to come to an understanding that may lead to growth, maturity, and a less hateful world.
A popular diagram of ikigai depicts four circles (passion, mission, vocation, and profession) intersecting, and the space where they all overlap is supposedly ikigai. For some people — perhaps the lucky ones — identifying this intersection is easy. I am not one of those people.
To cut a three-decades-long story short, let’s just say that most people who know me as an artist are surprised when I tell them about my nonprofit/citizen sector background, and people who know me from when I was younger get very surprised when I tell them that I paint and write for work now. I’ve spent many hours, weeks, months (what seems like a lifetime really) trying to figure out how to combine everything I’m interested in into one thing that I can finally call my one true purpose in life, my ikigai. I still think about it, write about it in my journal, spend time in bed wondering where that golden intersection is.
But you know what, I think it’s okay. It’s okay that not all my circles overlap. It’s okay that I cannot pinpoint that one thing that combines everything I love and enjoy doing. Because I probably am wasting time trying to solve this riddle, instead of just doing the things that I love, separately, side by side, with my full heart, mind, and soul. I think that is ikigai, too.
And you know, just like earlier this afternoon when I had a little chat with a former colleague in the social innovation arena, sometimes, things do clearly and definitely intersect — at least for a specific time period. And perhaps that is the nature of some intersections — with a beginning and an end, until the next one — and that should be perfectly okay, too.
“Be yourself” seems a simple enough advice — although the simplicity probably masks the complexity and difficulty of actualizing it.
There are too many factors, too many voices, and several expectations that can very easily cloud one’s judgment.
Being yourself means you actually know yourself, and knowing one’s self takes work. A lot of work, for some people (or for all?). Working out what you like, what you believe in, what you will fight for, what you reject, and more, takes a lot of energy, patience, faith, fortitude, deliberation, reflection, focus, grit. It takes a lifetime.
But it’s crucial. Knowing one’s self — and being one’s self, truly, is the way home.
There will be points in time, in our search for our life’s big ikigai, that we will feel utterly lost, almost hopeless, and we may start questioning everything.
During such times, find a place to rest, and rest.
Your hobbies, your morning run or coffee, that stray cat who greets you every time you get to your gate, all these little things are your ikigai, too, if they bring you a peaceful, deep, genuine kind of joy that you look forward to everyday. It’s not just your career or chosen line of work or your purpose in life, which I thought was the whole point of ikigai when I began this project.
Ikigai is much bigger than that, but it is accessible in small doses. So far, ikigai seems to be wonder, deep joy, gratitude, mindfulness, and hope all rolled into one moment in time. Yes, a moment, but it extends to your whole day, your whole week, month, year, life.
Ikigaii as a force of positive energy that transcends time, or perhaps ikigai seeping into the things we create that then release bits of itself to those who behold our work. Spent a good part of the day in Osaka browsing through shops of antique books and paintings.
A life lesson or two: 1) When you’re in the middle of a crappy mess, remember to look up — there might be something wonderful or magical right up there, and 2) There’s almost always a reason if crap is accumulating somewhere.
I didn’t know about half of what I was eating but I ate it all! delightful, colorful, and oishi!
I was supposed to give this ‘Where to Next?’ journal as a gift but ended up keeping it for myself for a new project. New journeys require that you ask questions, seek truths, and plan the details — this journal makes a good companion for such.
you can always tell when something has been done or made thoughtfully, carefully, mindfully; and here in Japan, and a pillar of ikigai, almost everyone seems to pay attention to the tiniest of details // genuinely caring and focusing on the task at hand make all the difference
silence and stillness, light and shadow, past and present // may really be good to meditate
Late night origami session with the baby girl.
Sick but I can appreciate honey.
Stop, take it all in, and be grateful.