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NeujahrI recently read an article about the concept of Ikigai.

Translated into English, the word more or less expresses the Japanese reason for jumping out of bed in the morning, for embracing the new day, for pursuing joy bolstered by one’s understanding of what life is worth living for.

Translated into my other home language, German, it’s the core feeling of knowing one’s happiness in the act of striving that keeps us going every day.

Leave it to the Germans to slide in the productivity angle!

I have to admit that lately I’ve been thinking about my own Ikigai.

For readers of this blog, how I define my inner Ikigai is pretty apparent.

I live for my family, poetry, community, tennis and running, my job. It helps that I live in Hawaii and can pretty much dive into my Ikigai every day by knowing our daughter is learning in a wonderful school a few blocks from our home, going another mile down a hill to the school where my husband and I work, teaching poetry a few days a week to students while most other hours are devoted to “facilitating philanthropy,” and then rounding out the day by getting on the treadmill at the YMCA.

In other words, I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and my world on that island where I spend most of every day year in and year out (four now since I moved to Hawaii) is about four square miles.

And in many ways I’ve never been happier.

But it took many miles figuring out and accepting life’s vicissitudes and living in about 10 different locations before I found what truly feels like home before I could find my way to Ikigai and its cousins, Yarigai, the value of doing, and Hatarakigai, the true worth of working.

Better now than never!

I’ve read that Okinawa, where Ikigai has its origins, is home to hundreds of centenarians.

For a guy whose family in the United States not only identified itself as German, but often went one dimension more and frequently referred to our Bavarian heritage, I’ve had threads of Japan woven into the path that brought me to Hawaii.

In college, I was engaged to a woman from Japan. When I lived in Austria, I worked for the Japanese Embassy. Now, in Hawaii, I work for a school in a temple community that was founded by immigrants who came from regions in Japan where Shin Buddhism was widely practiced.

Funny how life works. I’ve often wondered how jobs, friends, homes, joys and disappointments, hard and good times, and faith and hope carry a deeper meaning than meets the eye.

Fortunately, I’m still figuring it out. Most of the time, I find quiet joy in the discovering and striving. It’s my Ikigai.

Thank you, Dear Readers. This blog is part of my Ikigai. Please chime in and share your Ikigai.

 

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