04 August 2022

Ikigai and the value of wealth


'reason for being
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means your 'reason for being. ' 'Iki' in Japanese means 'life,' and 'gai' describes value or worth. Your ikigai is your life purpose or your bliss. It's what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day.7 May 2021

Ikigai, as explained above, is the Japanese equivalent to the French term raison d’etre, meaning (though slightly more laboriously) the purpose for one's whole being. But anyway, and typically, as with all things Japanese, there is a holistic idea embellished within and it embodies a comprehensive understanding of the Nature of all things. I say this because in America, it seems that there is a great divide between the world of Man as regards to flora and fauna. The American mind conquers Nature in stark contrast to the way of the Japanese which is born of an older culture, one that had been relatively isolated for several thousand years. It seems to me that their own human experience of living in the Natural world of plants and animals has arisen from folding themselves into their own geography. This is an advantage of living on a small island unlike the large continent called the United States. 
But, I am already off track because I really just wanted to speak to this idea Ikigai from a painter's point of view because when I came across it I was reminded of how privileged it is to be a painter in this increasingly hyper-technical world of machines. So many people in the developed world appear to be falling into a funnel of dysfunction due to a lack of any personal pathway in life that is separate from an attachment to these new 'smart' devices. To proceed ahead in life with enough means to provide for housing one's own family, educating their children and having the free time to express themselves creatively is a challenge despite also a living in a world of ease unheard of even 100 years ago.
The privilege of a life lived as any creative person, someone whose devotion places a complete attention to the creative act at all times is an anomaly in this new world of technology. 
But again, I go off on tangents. I suppose what I am asking is just how does one live any creative life, and what sacrifices does one need to make in order that happen? I don't know the answer, I used to think it was just having enough of a material means to get by but now I think it's much more than that.
For me, it means living in a space hovering between both the past and the future, a place where one's own personal history has confronted the fear of death. Because I have no family which is a luxury and a curse, it's a place where the importance of one's day is completely bound up in 24 hour cycles. It's a place where one has enough, and one doesn't need much more. It is enough to work at one's own craft knowing that the fact of failure is paramount in the day. 
I used to have a few things in life, material things but any more desire to acquire has been supplanted by the thirst to just live creatively in the unknowable present. And Painting, like so many other vocations is a perfect vehicle for this endeavour.   
I suppose that being an American naturally means to manifest American Exceptionalism. It means to be bold and courageous, it means carving out a life with little care to the Natural world or of even of one's consequences. But also as an American I was brought up to acquire, yes to create too, but mostly to create more and more money, material wealth. And this is at odds with Ikigai wherein the notion of wealth means something different, something where to have values means everything. With this understanding, is not the wealth of values more important than the value of wealth?
To live as an artist in today's world is enough, more than enough. 

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