I was just opened up to an idea that comes from Japan. It’s called Ikigai, and the concept can most broadly be defined as “a reason for being.” It has a very charming ven diagram that takes a look at the four categories. See, the idea is that instead of just seeking happiness (which is something that due to my head injury I don’t feel anyway), we should be seeking a life that has purpose. I like the concept. This diagram allows you to really take a look at this issue and decide for yourself where you want to focus, letting you know what the perks, but also drawbacks are. I want to tackle each thing one by one and see if we can find my ikigai. This shouldn’t be too hard. But first, a visual aid. Let’s take a look at this.
What do you love?
This is pretty easy. I love to write. It’s something I’m damn good at. This website is living testament to my writing prowess. I’ve had it up for nine years. That’s right, nine years of this. Ever since I started this site with the news story I did interviewing people at the anti-Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin rally when the two were up here in my home state. It was so raw, but it was the beginning of my work here. Writing is what I have loved for so long, but it isn’t the only thing.
I love to cook too. Just like writing, damn good at it. I have years of experience doing it. It’s weird that every task I have ever set my mind to and enjoyed doing, I’m good at. Like really, really good. I love to cook so much, and more than that, I love an audience for it. When I can get people in my life who like to eat what I have to make it fills me with a great sense of accomplishment. Because I can eat my creations and marvel at the flavors all day, but it’s something else when someone who is dear to me can too. Alas, the way things are now is just a reminder to me of how my people are long ago and far away now. It sucks.
So that part was pretty easy. On to the next one.
What are you good at?
This part is also pretty easy. Aside from the points I mentioned, I also have a lot of other tasks. In addition to being good at everything I set my mind to, I learn things fast. Really, really fast. It’s kind of freakish how I can pick things up by getting into the nit and grit of them and do it. There has yet to be something that does not fall into that category.
I also have a gift at making connections with people. Everywhere I go, without a single exception, I become the talk of the area. I my most recent job, I built up a reputation in two respects. First, I was the best. It goes without contest that in the customer service section of my employer, I was the best at what I did. At least when I left there to go into the document processing section. Best day ever. But I did that task with such skill and became known as the guy that everyone could come to do things. My head supervisor at the time saw me as something of an attitude problem, but to those I worked with directly, I was seen as sharp, witty, and a consummate professional on the phone. I have a habit of getting under the skin of those who like to follow rules for the sake of them being rules, while making a ton of friends with those I work with for my desire to help them when they have problems, being the best at what I do, and having NO qualms about cutting corners wherever possible. I’m an American, after all. It’s what we do best.
These skills are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, for bosses who see me as a person who also like to bend rules wherever they see them as detrimental, I am something of a hero. For those who don’t like that, I am something of an attitude problem. But make no mistake, the moment I enter into a new environment I find the fastest way to learn everything I need, and then become perfect at it. Could give the samurai a run for their money. Anyone who knows about the mentality of perfecting your art in their culture, you’ll know what I mean.
What does the world need from you?
Now that is a very, very good question. I honestly don’t think anything. My talents are asked for by no one and nobody really would care if I disappeared tomorrow. It would be an inconvenience for those I work with, but not too much of one. I am expendable because I’m still low on the totem pole. I genuinely can’t think of anything that the world needs from me.
I’ve always hoped that my loyalty to my people and to my sense of personal ethics would carry some weight. But that never stopped the countless people who have up and ditched me over the course of my life. So then what about me as a human being does this world feel that I would provide a benefit for. I genuinely couldn’t say. Let me know if you have any ideas.
What can you get paid for?
Now there is the rub. I can get paid for all sorts of things. My traits mean that I am something of a jack of all trades. It may be that the thing holding me back the most is my lack of stability. I haven’t set down roots anywhere. I want to. The big idea is to get out of this icebox and down south to finally have a community I can live in without having to worry about leaving for the next five to ten years.
My writing skills are almost certainly never going to make me any real money. I’m working on a novel right now, but I know that the chances of me hitting it big are astronomically small. So that’s out. Cooking? I don’t want something that is a passion to become something I do to get paid. Then it stops being fun and becomes work. With what I listed above, the things I can get paid for are plentiful. The things I can get paid a lot of money for or at least enough to live comfortably on, that’s another story.
So where does all this leave me? The Ven diagram I shared above has it that I am somewhere between Vocation, Mission, and Profession. It’s not a place I want to be, but the simple reality is that my Mission is clear – get south. I want to get to the ocean. To live on it. That’s the last stop on my life’s journey. I don’t actually think I’ll ever get there, but assuming I do, I have some decisions to make about where my life goes after that, if anywhere at all. I wouldn’t mind adding some passion into my life, but that’s not going to happen. At least not now. Now in a job market as shitty as the one in my state now that the recession has FINALLY caught up with us. A full ten years later.
I don’t know what the future holds, but this exercise has been interesting. Let me know where you fall into things. I actually do enjoy the discourse with my audience.
Until next time, a quote,
“Long ago and far away, I dreamed a dream one day. And now, that dream is here beside me. Long the skies were overcast, but now the clouds have passed. You’re here, at last.” – Lyric, Long Ago and Far Away