A reason for being
Hello from rainy Suzuka
You may have heard of this place if you’re into f1 racing. I’m not, so luckily for me, Eiko, my wife, was born here or I’d probably never have noticed it. But it’s a nice place, neither here nor there. You used to see a lot of Brazilians around but since the car factories slowed down over Covid they seem to have all left.
I like the place because of all the farms: small ones strewn throughout the neighbourhoods, tended by bent back great grandmothers, and disappearing one by one; and large rice fields that break the city into clear districts. Eiko grew up in a house that borders such a field, but her grandmother is currently in aged are the future of her house seems uncertain. I hope they keep it, along with the fields.
And now to the topic at hand… creativity, and managing to stay sane as an ambitious creative person who doesn’t know what to do with themselves and feels stuck in a day job. I have been meeting such people everywhere.
There’s dec who I mentioned in the previous letter, but also an old friend, Yuki, who draws the most lovely sketches and who once lived in Australia and made a pretty good go of chalk board art.
Another is Dennis, a German bloke travelling with two friends I met at a guesthouse near Mount Fuji. Dennis is just a few years older than me and has had the same IT systems admin job for 20 years, but wants to work out what he should really be doing, and do it.
I wanted to speak with all these people for much longer time than we had, detailing their dreams, analysing their motivations, sympathising with their obstacles, and working our shit out together. But there wasn’t really time as we were all on the road, except Yuki who is a mother.
A reason for being is a rough translation ( I say rough because I don’t really know how accurate or not it is) of ikigai, a Japanese (how appropriate) concept of finding joy, passion and value in one’s work. It’s really what this newsletter is all about, although I often refer to it in the negative sense of “navigating the cluster fuck of my annoyingly non-creative life.”
My own knowledge of the concept stops at the classic ikigai diagram (google this) which is in itself infinitely helpful in brainstorming possible directions.
The diagram asks you to list possible things to do and arrange them in a four way Venn diagram consisting of
what you’re good at
What you love
What the world needs (I always add “or wants”)
What can get paid
The idea is that things that appear in multiple categories are potential opportunities for you to investigate.
Try this now if you haven’t ever. In a way it’s a dangerous game because you may feel encouraged to drop what you’re doing (its not usually a good idea to switch up things without finishing things first) and start something “better.”
In truth even if something sits right at the crossroads of all those criteria, it might not be the right thing for you to do right now. But, it’s good to be aware of your options.
Until next time,