IKIGAI – Search for meaning

I recently came upon this Japanese concept that has an echo with my own philosophy and my choices.

Ikigai  –  生き甲斐
lit. “a reason for being”

This idea that we can see as a quest aims at finding an harmonious and meaningful way of being in this world.
By associating the concepts of Mission, Passion, Vocation and Profession, it becomes then possible to link thos two ideas that our modern society set against each other : efficiency and fulfilment…

Here is a way to visually represent the Ikigai

It seems very important to me in this time of “economic recovery” after a necessary parenthesis that each of us question our relation to labour and our personal way of embodying what we want to rise for the world.

Do we sincerely wish to re-launch the machine that destroy life inside and outside us ?

People often say to me :
“ah ! You’re lucky to live from your passion !”
On which I usually answer :
“I am not living FROM my passion but FOR my passion !”

And I wonder where is the luck in that.
I guess in the fact that I was born and raised in a background enabling me to search, invent and experiment without being crushed neither under precariousness with which any kind of search for fulfilment is obviously not a priority nor under the pressure of social reproduction which unconsciously determine our choices.
As such, yes, chances aren’t equal.

However, for the rest, I made choices,
and this is a possibility we all have.
Those choices were guided by a personal ethic answering important questions :
What do I consume ?
To whom do I give my money ?
To whom do I give my energy, my labour power ?

By answering with my heart to those questions, I slowly found my bamboo way. Certainly I somehow feel ‘I found my Ikigai‘ but that doesn’t prevent me from doubt, confrontation and overtaking challenges because we all know that whatever beautiful and intense passion is, it is not last (hopefully !); it goes.
And what comes after seems deeper to me.

There can be many lives in a lifetime and it is never to late to make choices and change.

In Japan, Ikigai (even if it’s used in a more superficial way in common language) is usually represented by those craftsmen especially “living national treasure” entirely dedicated to their work/passion/fulfilment.
But it’s good to know that for some of them, their ‘vocation’ was rather a choice they made when they retired from a submissive salaryman’s life.
As Hokusai said, and as it is commonly admitted in Japanese arts, after 60 years old, you can start creating good; before that, it’s all about studies ..!


Thomas – May 2020