IKIGAI; What is Your Purpose?

I read the most beautiful book this week.  It has helped me get my groove back.

I had decided last year as my business was failing that I would go back to school to be a chef (but it is hard to be a chef when you don’t use animal products and the busy catering description gave me anxiety).  So then I thought teaching.  I love teaching!  “What would you teach?” everyone asked.  Oh…anything.  Then I got the bill for the first semester and promptly dropped all classes.  I would be retired before I could pay off that degree.  I look around and I love and am fascinated by so much.  My friend is a surgical tech.  That sounds cool!  My friends are nurses.  I was a candy striper in high school.  I wanted to be a nurse.  I could maybe work somewhere or do something.  Anything.  But, I know my pattern.  I go get a job, become overwhelmed, am shocked at the measly paycheck, am behind on dishes for weeks, and then quit.  I am better at being an entrepreneur.  But that failed.  Again.  Last year.  And that is when I went off kilter.  I lost my purpose.  I was no longer a full time herbalist.  No longer a shop keeper.  No longer healing baby calves around the county that were sick because they just got picked up from auction.  Heck, I am not even in the country anymore.

And then my beloved aunt and grandma passed away, I became sick, I think my dear friend, Steve, in California killed himself, and I have been listless and depressed.  Which is not like me.  And something had to give.

It is amazing how a book can change your life.  So many books, so much literature, has changed my life.  And this week, this book, I am so grateful for.  I realized that everything I feel is stemmed from my losing my purpose.

IKIGAI; the Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles is a beautifully written and researched tome.  The authors delve into the science and stories behind longevity and happiness, primarily in Japan, where the most super centenarians reside (over 100 years old).  What do they do?  What do they eat?  What are their days like?  I adore research and am very interested in the longevity studies and other cultures.  They touch on diet (tons of fresh vegetables, soy, and fish), social networks (lots of valued friends, social get-togethers, small amount of alcohol daily), spiritual health (honoring all of the spirits and their ancestors), and exercise (they move, not more strenuously, but all the time, biking and walking everywhere).  But the main thing that keeps these folks so alive and well is purpose.  Their IKIGAI.  If they know what that is, they have reason to get up every morning.

What is it that makes you spring out of bed in the morning?  What would you do even without pay?  What is your passion?  What could you talk about without hesitation?  What do you do naturally?  My aunt gave me this picture for Christmas.  I guess she knew.


I am a writer.  I never have to think about writing this blog.  In fact, it bothers me to take days off but I want to make sure y’all can catch up!  I love writing; books, poetry, articles, snippets of thoughts…I am a writer.  It is my IKIGAI.  I get a modest payment every month from Amazon and the local museum that carries my books.  It won’t support us, but that doesn’t matter.  I am also a gardener, a farmer, a lover of animals.  I need a greenhouse.  I need to be around plants, and I need to grow my own food, and I need to be around animals.  Sanctuary.

After reading this lovely little book I realized that I do not need to have any new degrees, careers, or paths.   I am on it.  If I write every day.  If I take care of my chickens.  If I get into the garden.  I will be okay.  That is my IKIGAI.  And with that knowledge, I am free.  I have purpose.  What is your IKIGAI?

Read it!  It is a lovely book.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Lynn's NYC Supper Club says:

    I might consider the idea of Ikigai, and the question of ‘purpose’, more simply, insofar as…. I think so long as each of us is alive and on planet earth, that we continue to change others, enlighten others, save others, humor and entertain others, etc., and that this in turn has an impact on humanity as a whole.

    I firmly believe in the domino effect with regards to the smallest of human interactions.
    Living in a densely-packed, fast-moving place such as NYC, it hasn’t escaped me…the impact we have on each other’s days, and how the accumulation of those moments, those days, have on people’s lives. I can go into a to-go coffeeshop to get a cuppa joe and a pastry. I’m in a good mood. But then the person in line in front of me is indecisive, and I just want them to hurry up. When I get to the register, the person behind the counter is a bit rude. I pay for my stuff, then go over to the counter to add my milk and sugar. I put the cover on my coffee and head out the door to the subway. As I head down the subway stairs, someone behind me is rushing down but not taking care to bump others. He jostles me, my coffee cup shakes, and the cover comes off, spilling coffee, while the man who bumps me just makes it onto his train as the doors close in my face.

    By now you can imagine my mood is not so good. But then I get on the train and see that a woman just vacated her seat, and that I’m close enough to grab the seat for myself. Yes! I settle in, and look around. I see a young woman diagonally across from me, crying, while trying her best to hide this fact. “Ugh…what can you do in a situation like this?…some people just want to be left alone…they don’t want anyone to acknowledge that they see them crying…they might snap back, ‘mind your own business’ ….uh… I wonder what happened…why she’s crying?…well, I can’t look at her…I don’t want to make eye contact and embarrass her….” But then. Then I observe a fellow NYer… another young woman who was seated next to her, who turns and hands her a small sealed packet of Kleenaxe and give her a quick pat on her upper arm. The woman who was crying manages a quick smile, says ‘thank you’, and no other words are said between them. It’s back to being a great day in New York City. Humanity can be great, and can impact others and the world, with the smallest of acts.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      That is a great example and I believe we should all be mindful in our interactions, but without a personal purpose and passion, we will not be able to reach out. That was the point of the post, discovering our own personal passion, ikigai. Then we can live with joy and spread that to others.

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