This post proceeds without a definite aim or set agenda. I just want to ramble a bit with my thoughts about life, passion, and finding the ideal pursuit. First, life has so many turbulent and expected turns that it is sometimes difficult to center oneself and handle it all. When one things goes right, another goes wrong and vice versa. Sometimes they both happen at the same time and sometimes everything happens at one and then stops. Such is the motion and flow of life. I definitely see it happen often in my life.
However, when things get turbulent and chaotic I try to dig deep and find the lessons in life, ways I can better combat the problem next time, and how to come out of it thinking that it was a character builder. One main lesson I’ve learned recently was that when I am dealing with too much turmoil in a situation that I don’t even enjoy (mainly work or academic), I turn my mind to the things and people that do matter to me. They become my main focus, so the knockdown ends up becoming a source of strength and inspiration for me. No matter how tough life gets, I will then go back stronger to my sources of inspiration: writing, martial arts, reading, and studying.
To add, my path is an unpredictable and unquantifiable direction: I want to be a scholar (sociologist, philosopher, and a bit of a Renaissance individual), a Zen master (figuratively), and a martial arts master. Those things rate high on the spiritual and personal growth sector, but there are no measurements, no societal rewards, nor monetary rewards for them nor even clear markers for achievement. I want to be the voice to unearth ignorance and free the people of cultural and socio-economic oppression and help to cure social injustice. Big words from a little man, but I got my goals set up. Spiritual values are my commodity so while I lose out in the short run when everyone is in the rat race of career, money, mortgages, and trips to Italy, I think holding on to what I really believe wins me prize in the end: a life well lived.
I’ve also been reading this book that I somehow came across by accident (it just showed up in my Amazon shopping cart one day and i bought it used for about $3), called The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. It’s about a scientist who travels around to different parts of the world to interview people who live in regions with high concentrations of centenarians, or people who have lived a hundred years or more. It’s interesting, as many of them that live in areas ranging from rural America, to Italy, and Okinawa all have similar traits: a mainly vegetable/legume based diet, religious faith, strong social connections, an active lifestyle a purpose for living each day (whether it’s family, a job, to see a young person reach an accomplishment, friends etc.) etc. Going on diet, from my memory, a variety of nuts, a staple food (rice, bread, or tortillas etc.), and plenty of fruits and vegetables were their dietary choices (the Okinawans ate tofu). Some of them are dirt poor but get along, and most of them are fairly functional, independent, and even extremely strong. They also emphasize not only the length of life, but your number of “good years” – meaning functional, healthy, and relatively disease/pain-free. I believe you can only reach to that point living a happy life with activities and values that are meaningful to you.
To add, what it’s also interesting to note that man of the centenarians mentioned that most were rather unhappy between the ages of 40-80, but their happiness increased after the age of 80. This included the slowing down of the body, but perhaps also some better perspective on life. In a country where they value youth too much, I would say that it is overrated as you’re young, dumb, and invincible and fly head first into one disaster after another until you’re in pain, feeble, and left to question what mistakes you made when you were young while continuing to make the same mistakes. Our mental and physical health is valuable and should be first on our list – not an after thought. We don’t bring money to our grave, but we do bring health, the people around us, and a life worth living.
Have a good day.