Living well with illness and ikigai is present-centred. However, that doesn’t mean we forget the past and ignore the future. Ikigai is a golden thread linking these three time spans together. Today I am the cumulative experiences of all that has gone before; some things I liked and some I didn’t. Yet, here I am, and I don’t want to trade places with anyone else. I live with my regrets and try not to repeat them. And I look forward to my future.
In this past hour, I have been scribbling away on my computer. A friend who lives in Malaysia and whom I have not yet met in person just taped a series of exercises that I and others can use to help my/our necks. She is not the only person who has done this for me. Before writing this post, I did all the exercises she demonstrated. The process of doing the exercises prompted me to attend to what I can do in the here and now and relieved me of a certain amount of anticipatory pain. Not only did it highlight the truth that I am the beneficiary of kindness every day of my life, but it reminded me of all the everyday kindnesses that are woven into that single golden thread.
As I looked through my photos, my mind flew back into the recent past, which shored up the beautiful memories of the people on Gabriola Island and the place. Hence, the photo of Entrance Island lighthouse, just off the coast of Gabriola Island. These memories and activities become part of my repository of small joys and help carry me through both good and challenging times.
And let’s not forget the future. We all need something to look forward to. I am looking forward to my road trip to the Maritimes tomorrow, where I get to spend time with my cousins and an old friend I have not seen in 60 years. And, of course, my great-granddaughters – twin girls- will be born soon. There is a program I will help teach in September and a work/leisure trip to Calgary in October. All of these things bring meaning – “a bright future,” as the mother of Ikigai -Mieko Kamiya- writes. Dr. Kamiya was one of the first academics to study ikigai extensively, and I wish that there was an English translation of her book.
Although with Ikigai and Illness, we situate it in the present and determine what we can do now, we are not independent of our past and future. The scope of our lives includes everything. We just don’t want to live in the past, nor do we simply want to dream away the future. We want to live now. Take action now, which is the only place action can happen.
PS Mind you, we can take action steps now for what we hope will happen in the future: research, make a plan, place calls, save money, fill out an application and so on.
1:) I took this photo in New Brunswick a few years ago, and I look forward to seeing similar scenes again this year.
2:) “10-year dreams. 5-minute actions. Where do I want to be in 10 years? What can I do in the next 5 minutes to contribute to this outcome? James Clear (example doing my neck exercises today…)
3:) “I know now, after 50 years, that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning never stops. The whole of life is about another chance, and while we are alive, till the very end, there is always another chance.: Jeanette Winterson
4:) Thank you for stopping by on this hot day. I will see you next week from Nova Scotia. Wishing you cooling breezes. Warmly, Trudy