The Value of a Word
Each language describes a world, that's why is so important trying to learn more than one. For example, in Quechua language, the same world to name "past" is used to name "future"; for native of the Andean Mountains in Peru, time comes in circles, so there's nothing to find "Ahead": Things, feelings, and the entire life, just go back and forth.
When I lived in Peru, I made a friend, Gigi, who had japanese roots; It won't be surprising to say she owned a japanese restaurant in downtown Cusco, "Mayuyama". During the days of winter, when temperatures can drop to 12 degrees below zero, at 4000 meters above sea level, I used to visit my friend at the time of closing, to eat together miso soup and talk about our lives.
Gigi had difficulties in starting business in cooking and catering but she still was there, in charge of a restaurant, trying to lead to success japanese food in a city where people didn't know so much about Sushi or Teriyaki. One of those nights, I asked her "Why? You could try a different thing". That night she taught me the word Ikigai. She said: "Cooking and have my own place to cook, what I've learned from my family and be satisfied of sharing my taste with others and live of it, is my Ikigai".
This Japanese word means something like "the reason to live". Gigi said everyone need a Ikigai, because that's what keep us alive and allow us to live much and much better, going easier over problems and avoiding depresion: She said japanese live many years not because they are rich to have a comfortable life, but because they are "culturally" persuaded to have a Ikigai and stay focused on that.
What is your reason for living? some people will say that their children, their profession, their desire for conquest and triumphs of all kinds. Many things can be noted as our own Ikigai. Not always Ikigai matches with the thing you do to have money to pay your bills: Money is a resource, shouldn't be the end itself. Reconnecting with our reason for being is necessary to ourselves, and our duty toward others. We know people who are only moving around needs to be satisfied as to the outside: Work, fulfill obligations of any kind but, lacking an essential sense of destiny, everything becomes oppressive and debilitating.
For a person without Ikigai is easy to fall into depression. However, with a good reason anyone can endure all kinds of problems. Victor Frankl, who was imprisoned in concentration camps, who survived and after wrote a book about, said what helped him to resist was the conviction that he should get out alive to tell the world what he had lived there.Without a reason to live, life is simply time that goes by, years in the calendar.That reason is by definition a very personal thing. It has to do a lot with vocation. A very intimate feeling that is usually expressed in the child like a dream. What is important to know is that never is late to retake your Ikigai and make it happen: Your dream is your mission.
Ikigai is discovering what we love. Think about it, what would you do is you had the possibility? Every life need a reason to make it matter; work, study,responsabilities, we struggle daily in a world increasingly complex and challenging: How we do all that? with Ikigai, connecting with our reason to be here and to keep here, confident, courageous and rescilient; learning to "live on purpose," with intention.This makes a big difference in our lives.
As I learned from Gigi, Ikigai is our personal and intimate happiness to be alive to achieve a dream.