Living With a Purpose

What are you passionate about? Ikigai is all about living with a sense of purpose: having something that motivates you -- a reason to get up in the morning. This is how Yoko Inoue pictured Kamiya Mieko upon reading her diary: a person living with purpose; passionate and certain with her goals. 

Nick: Do you find that inspiring?

Yoko: Oh, yes. In fact, this is one of the books that I shipped all the way from Japan. So yes, it's always inspiring, but the thing is when I re-read this book for the article I wrote in 2018, I was surprised how much I could relate to that point.

Because at the time, I just quit Yomiuri, the newspaper, to continue living in Denmark. Like I said, suddenly I was in a position where I'm in my mid 40s, with no job, no idea how to be happy, you know, with three of us in Denmark.

I also read her diary, and in a way it was even more fascinating to read her diary. She described her feelings while she was working on ikigai work. It's clear that she felt a strong sense of ikigai, or even a sense of mission to finish this book. She wrote, and I quote:

 "Oh my heart is full and bursting with the sense I have been feeling for many years. I cannot die until I have poured it all out. All the real work starts from now on, I cannot stay still."

Kamiya wrote this when she was 45 years old, and when I read this book, I was 43 -- almost the same age. Yet, I had no idea about what I should do in Denmark. So I was simply jealous of her having something to be so passionate about.

Nick: Yeah, but there are other quotes in it, there's actually a book about her life called A Woman With Demons.

The quote from her diary; there are these quotes where you can feel the intensity of her desire to get this information out in the book, and I think that's your translation.

This, "Oh, my heart is full and bursting with things I've been feeling for many years, I cannot die until I've poured it all out. All the real work starts from now on. I cannot stay still." 

I think I had the same feeling as you. I was like, wow, imagine being that passionate about something. I was like, jealous too, oh, gee, I need to find something, that's a testament.

Yoko: Yes, absolutely right. Ikigai is a profound word for me. So if there's one person who sincerely says, this is my ikigai, it's rare to hear. That's the kind of sense of the mission or living the purpose. That's such a fortunate thing to have.