Ikigai

I am a big believer in synchronicities.  I have experienced many in my life – I think we all have.  It is just that we are not always paying attention.  I want to share an interesting and profound one that came my way this past Christmas.  One that has informed and supported the work I do with my therapy patients.

I joined an on-line group a few months back – it was made up of people from all over the world coming together to share their different spiritual beliefs and practices.  This resonated with me because of my existential roots and because I love meeting people with different backgrounds and customs.  I like to learn about new things –  and to take the things I learn that resonate with me and incorporate them into my life.  It keeps life fresh and interesting.

Anyways, many of us decided that we would like to do a Christmas gift exchange with each other.  The premise of the exchange was that we would each be paired randomly with another member of the group.  Once paired, we were given our gift exchange partner’s email and home address to correspond with them and send a Christmas gift of our choice.  I love these kinds of random selections as it allows synchronicity to take place. I am always excited to see what shows up for me and the messages it brings.

To start – my exchange partner and I emailed back and forth a couple of times.  I found out she lives in the states on the west coast and has a master’s degree in social work – right there was an interesting connection as I have my master’s degree in counseling psychology.  Also, she had a similar name to a dear woman I used to know years ago that worked as a hospice Chaplain.  I had fond memories of this old acquaintance and our many interesting discussions.

Christmas Day rolled around and I had not yet received my gift.  With the holiday postal rush, I thought it may have been delayed or she had become busy and wasn’t able to get the gift in the mail before Christmas.  No big deal.   That morning, I went out for a run and when I came back to the house, I noticed a package on the front step.  I picked it up and saw it was from my gift exchange partner.  It must have arrived by mail the day before, but I had not seen it.

I brought it into the house and immediately opened it.  It was a book – “Ikigai – The Japanese Secret for a Long and Happy Life”.  I was taken aback.  I thought – what?  You have got to be kidding me.  I have had so many Japanese influences in my life.  I was speechless.  I felt a recognition and a confirmation of some very profound things I had been going through.  There is no way she could have known.  This book was not one that she purchased for me, rather it was one that she was passing on to me.  I was being given a very special message – one that only I could understand and appreciate.

The premise of “Ikigai” is to find that place where passion, mission, vocation and profession all come together.  It is about finding your authentic path.  There is no Japanese word for “retire” because many do not believe in retiring – they remain active throughout their lives doing the work that they enjoy.  It is one of reasons many Japanese in the Blue Zone stay happy and feeling young.  How they eat, move, work, foster collaboration and community are also important aspects to their life of purpose.

Because this book had such profound meaning for me, I decided I should include it in my bio and let it inform the work that I do.  It is a way of living that resonates with me at my deepest level.  Here it was – synchronicity in it’s purest form – summing up the way I approach life.  I felt honored and humbled to have received such a meaningful gift inspired from something greater than we are maybe capable of understanding.

 

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