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.