‘[Ikigai] is about discovering, defining and appreciating those of life’s pleasures that have meaning for you. It is OK if no one else sees that particular value, although […] pursuing one’s private joys in life often leads to social reqwards. You can find and cultivate your own ikigai, grow it secretly and slowly, until one day it bears a quite original fruit.’*
‘You can only have what you have by releasing it to others.’**
Ikigai feels like our personal holy ground. The thing that makes everything special and significant will also benefits others. I’ve been trying to work on a colouring book with a difference so Bernadette Jiwa’s closing words in Hunch caught my eye:
‘It’s possible to change tiny corners of [the world] with simple, thoughtful ideas. By designing a beautiful colouring book that allows people to pause and create.’^
At least that’s the hope.
This “holy ground” is what we each need to find and not to lose. It can be closer than we know, the urging from our lives to try this idea out and see what happens. It’s in the smallness. Bigness can get in the way, as Anne Lamott confesses from her experience as a writer:
“I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that is it cracked up to be. But writing is.”^^
And as Patagonia‘s Yvon Chouinard points out:
“How you climb the mountain is more important that reaching the top.”*^
This even sounds like what Jesus once pointed out one time, about what does it gain someone if they obtain the whole world but lose their soul. Or to put it another way, as my friend Alex McManus has written about being Makers of Fire, what good is it to have all the fuel and oxygen in the world but to have no spark with which to light it.
Brené Brown identifies loss, longing, and feeling lost as the three most fundamental elements of grief that her research has shown up.⁺ I wonder whether these are also signs for us for we have lost our holy ground. We feel loss, that something is missing though we may not be able to name it. There’s a longing for something more, even when our homes and diaries suggest there’s nothing missing. And when we find the odd moment of stillness or reflection – perhaps watching a movie or reading a book – we feel disorientated, our life is not where we should be.
It is when we need to look more closely, to notice the small things, to notice – like Lamott’s writing and Chouinard’s climbing – what matters most to us. Nassim Taleb writes about a number of practices that offer us some helpful means:
‘My idea of the modern stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, desire into understanding.‘⁺⁺
What we may find is that our holy ground is not so far away., that, like James T. Kirk, we can leave the Nexus and find the fear of failure that tells us we are engaged in something that matters to us and to others, something that makes a difference.
(*From Ken Mogi’s The Little Book of Ikigai.)
(**From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(^From Bernadette Jiwa’s Hunch.)
(^Anne Lamott, quoted in K.M. Weiland’s 6 Lifestyle Changed You Can Make to Protect Creativity.)
(*^Yvon Chouinard, quoted in Bernadette Jiwa’s Hunch.)
(⁺See Brené Brown’s Rising Strong.)
(⁺⁺From Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile.)