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Posts from the ‘Sunshine’ Category

About Finding the “Ikagai”

Dalai Lama in one of his seminal speeches had said that “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions“. It’s not what you have or who you have but rather what you do, how you act and how you live, that many philosophers and thinkers say is the key to happiness.  The concept of “Ikagai” stems from these principles and in Japanese, means something akin to  “a reason for being” and translated in English it refers to the “reason you wake up in the  morning”.

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This idea of having a reason to wake up in the morning is beautifully explained and illustrated in a brilliant and precise work called Ikagai – Giving Everyday Meaning and Joy by Yukari Mitsuhashi . In this book, Ms. Mitsuhasi , takes the reader to the very root of the Ikagai word, explaining that the Japanese word of “Ikagai” consists of two Japanese characters, “iki” meaning life and “gai” meaning value or worth. The life that the “iki” refers to is not the big life and its meaning, but rather daily life – seikatsu; and about the joy a person finds living day to day , without which their life as a whole would not be a happy one. She further shares that while in West, the concept often leans towards finding happiness through work, in Japan, most people find their “ikagai” from their hobbies or their loved ones and not something they are necessarily paid to do. The concept of Ikagai per Ms. Mitsuhashi is so ingrained in the Japanese culture, that through their art and language, the Japanese people are constantly reminded of the joy that can be found in everyday life and will lead to a fulfilling life. Thus, Ikagai with its features of Everyday life, the act of giving, understanding and accepting emotions and active way of living leads to a stable state of mind, growth and progress and most importantly finding a purpose of life. She illustrates this concept by sharing stories of lives of people, both famous as well everyday man/woman, who have found their ikagai, through a variety of sources, including, hobbies, food, volunteering, or through their work, by getting better at their craft or seeing the impact that their work brings. Through several interviews, the author weaves stories of writers, business men and women and athletes, who have found their Ikagai through their work or by finding something worthwhile, post their retirement and how this finding of Ikgai has helped them succeed and find contentment. She brings the circle to its close, by showing how pursuit of Ikagai is the actions that lead to happiness.

This is a short, but a mighty book! It’s thought provoking and forces the reader to reflect on his or her life and  the directions it is heading towards. The author’s examples are well chosen, in the sense these are successful men and women, but they are like us and their life and pursuit of Ikagai, has helped them succeed, thus providing the reader with role models and inspirations. The author has written with simplicity, which works very well, as the ideas that the author puts through are contemplative and require thinking as the reader navigates through the book.  Furthermore, the concepts are clearly enunciated and the “plot” keeps moving forward. One of the most exemplary things about this work of non fiction, was that Ms. Mitsuhashi does not beat a concept to death, by constant repetition, but manages to find the fine balance of emphasizing on an idea and moving to the next concept.

To end, I would strongly recommend this book to everyone. It is good to sometimes sit and think about our lives and the good things in it and this book helps you value those good things and channelize them into your “Ikagai”

This book was part of my Non Fiction November Reads.

The Mystery of Life and All Those Big Questions…

Confession time and don’t raise your eyebrows – I am not about to disclose that I am giving up life to lead an ascetic life on the Himalayas nor am I going to give up my job to spend the remaining life as a poster painter of the streets of Paris. I have nothing against the ascetic living individuals or poster painters, especially the latter since it does kind of have a 1920s glamour associated with it, but I can’t imagine myself as creature deprived of home delivery, cab service and Kindle!

Anyway, as usual I digress; where was I? Oh! Yes! Confession time – I am a crier! As in a bawler! As in I cry over books and movies. I bawl and drown the world in my river of tears. For someone who takes life stoically and bounces through heartbreaks through cherry optimism which even I find nauseating in myself at times can spend hours crying when Elsa is left to fend for herself in the Jungle- yes Born Free! I cried buckets when Boo rescued Jem Finch and takes him home – yes To Kill a Mockingbird! I cried when Maria left without meeting the children – yes Sound of Music. Let’s not even get into the hours of uninterrupted tears shed on reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. My new year’s eve 2013 was ushered with me shedding buckets of tears for while reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I even cried when I understood how poor Snape repented through his life in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (I mean who cries while reading a Harry Potter? I do! I cried for one whole day when Sirius dies!) I am sure I forgetting a million others, but the point I am trying to drive home is that I CRY!!!!

One of my all-time favorites reads, which inevitably leads to a lot of crying, thereby increasing sales of Kleenex and I am so surprised I have never written about this book is called “Welcome to The Great Mysterious” by Lorna Landvik. I had never read Ms. Landvik before I picked up this book and I have never read anything since. But, boy! Am I glad that my flatmate picked up this book one summer afternoon three years ago when our community library was selling of some of its older collections due to space constrains.

The Great Mysterious” is not a mystery/thriller – in fact it is one of the best happy books that I have read – true there are some heartbreaking moments, especially around chapter 10 and 11 (My Kleenex quotient jumps from 3 to the whole box Now!) but in the end when you close the book, you will have a smile on your face.  The book is about dive Geneva Jordan, a broadway star who is in between projects and nursing a broken heart and menopause. It is at this serene moment of her life that her twin sister Ann, arm twists her into babysitting Ann’s 13 year old son Rich, while she and her professor husband take a much needed work/vacation for a month in Italy. Geneva Jordan is not particularly happy at the thought  of spending time in the back woods away from the glamour and comfort of New York where  she had decided on spending this time indulging herself and taking a much needed vacation while coming to terms with the crucial changes in her life. The other worry she had was that Rich suffers from Down Syndrome and she is not quite confident as to how she would manage such a child. After much pleading and emotional turmoil, she agrees to take on her nephews care and moves into her sister’s house for a month. It is there that her transformation begins – how she begins a warm relationship with its natural ups and downs with  her nephew Rich, new enriching friendships with Barb, who is mother to Rich’s best friend Conrad and James the mail man and the discovery of small joys that are far more beautiful than the most expensive indulgences. Intertwined with this journey of self-discovery via a memory book that a 13 year old Geneva and Ann created seeking to find answers to the big questions in life called “The Great Mysterious” and the understanding that all relationships have several layers and a person may not be the way they seem and that the past gives strength for living for the future, when you know how to look!

It is not, and I repeat NOT a pedantic book.  Written in an engaging first party narrative from the point of view of a very warm but very human Geneva Jordan, the book does not aim to be a high brow literature. Instead it tells you an unstoppable story which makes you turn page after page until you reach the end. It’s a funny book – there are many ha ha moments and critics can say that it’s a very linear story and far too simplistic etc. but the book is what it’s meant to be – an entertainer! There is nothing holier than thou or oh! look at the bright side of things and Down Syndrome is god’s gift etc etc. Instead it’s a joy ride of a book – where you laugh, scream and the cry your way through. It’s like talking to a great companion and realizing at the end of 2 hours, that the companion is actually a great friend to whom you can go back whenever you are happy or sad or just need company time after time!

Come September……

Yay! Finally fall is on its way! Goodbye to all the heat and dust….no more summers for at least the next 7 months!!!

Oh! How I hate and I mean HATE summers! I love Fall/Winter seasons – cannot get enough of them! You can dress whatever you want, go out in the sun and not melt, eat what you want and of course like I keep saying, it’s the seasons of celebrations – the entire world celebrates their most important festivals during these months! These are just hands down the best part of the year! Give me 12 months of September to January! (Don’t like February too much, it begins to remind me the on coming summer!)

However for now, the summer of 2013 is over and done with! I am so glad that it’s OVER!!!!! I love these days….I see so much beauty, the early morning mist that comes over the valley where I stay, the feel of the warming sun the smell of wood smoke from the small hamlets around the valley; the smaller days and cooler nights – a season of festivals and beckoning of more joy to come!

I am not being poetic; I will leave that to a gentleman named William Blake who himself eulogized this season in a marvelous poem in 1783 and whose words capture the very essence of the season and leave me spell bound!

To Autumn by William Blake

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain’d
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

“The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

“The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.”
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

Back to Where We Started From…..

It’s the first of the brand new year again and someone sent me text with a quote that goes as follows –

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” ― Brad Paisley

I thought this is very apt; as most of you are aware I am unusually fond of New Beginnings, even it means a new beginning at the middle of the year. So while I set new chapters for the 2013 book, which I will enumerate shortly, I need to face facts and see how I did in my 2012 plans, which some niggling conscience tells me that I did a disastrous job –

  1. Earn more –  Well I did but I spent it all so that’s no good
  2. Lose weight – Lost 5 pounds to a goal of 30 pounds…..oh! Brother! This was so no go!
  3. Write rigorously and get published – Write I did and a lot more but I need to do      more. I attempted to get published but did not get through; but did not follow-up either
  4. Compatible partnerships – The tricky one; Still in no man’s land, but definitely      becoming a rock solid formation and may be heading towards an island      formation. So some points scored here.
  5. Save and cut debts – No! Did not manage any saving and incurred more debts! Ouch!

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The scorecard does not look good, but I am the eternal optimist and I will make yet another goal sheet or rather chapter plan for 2013’s books and I am extremely confident that I will make more success of it this year (Ya! Ya! I know you are scoffing, but there is something called the eternal sunshine of unbound optimism!)

  1. Lose Weight – 30 pounds and no less.
  2. Save and cut debts – I will probably earn what I do today, but I need to be more frugal
  3. Write more and get published – Complete the incomplete works (at least 3 at this point) and send them for publication. Attempt minimum of 5-6 publishing houses/agents.
  4. Compatible Partnerships – Create an island and set the foundation for a larger land mass like a continent, which is sustainable for centuries.
  5. Read more – Not only what I like but some more works the Lecito List as well some difficult works like Balzac and Dostoyevsky

I am not sure if this is ambitious or not, but like I said, I am an eternal optimist and unless I begin how will I end?

Bring on the Sunshine……

Ahem Ahem….So Thanks to the magnificent Lill and Jill, (awww I am still so touched…sob! sob!!Thank you Guys!) I have been nominated for the Sunshine Award. I would like to take these 15 seconds of fame and Thank my Father/Mother/dog/cat/neighbour/fellow students at my University from Slovakia and Turkmenistan…..No I have not really lost it (yet!)  and I  am not really doing this, so please do not drop your jaws or start reading another blog!!!

So per the Sunshine Award rules, here comes the detail –

  • Favourite Colour – Oh! Gosh! There are so many of them that I love – red, blue, aquamarine (I know its just another shade of blue, but it sounds nicer), pale yellow …let’s just say I am a colourful person (Yes! I know this is a really bad pun, but I was tempted!)
  • Favourite Animal – Oh! I am so old-fashioned here ….give me a doggie anyway!! I mean a doggie and not a dog; there are differences between the two – one is more of an impersonal creature and the common noun can often be used as an adjective….the doggie is a friend preferably a golden retriever type of friend who is always around to share your chicken and life…..I hate apartments cause you cannot bring up a doggie here.
  • Favourite Number – All even and never odds…don’t ask me; got something to do with childhood memories of times when we learnt HCF and LCM
  • Favourite Non Alcoholic Drink – You mean there is any other type of drink in this world? Er…water and tea!
  • Favourite Book – Oh! The list is long and only the brave can survive …here goes Pride and Prejudice and everything else written by Ms Austen, To kill a Mocking Bird, All Terry Pratchett, All Harry Potters, Everything written by Conn Iggulden, All works of William Dalrymple, Wild Swans, All works of John Steinbeck, All works of Orhan Pamuk, War and Peace, All works by Saki ….I will stop now that you have an idea!
  • My Passion – Let me start counting …reading, writing, cooking actually food, travelling, history, architecture, talking nineteen to a dozen, bugging my best friend when she is trying to watch a movie, laughing, dancing, theatre …I think I should stop!
  • Prefer giving or getting presents – Giving, I love giving surprise gifts, but my problem is always choosing the right gift for the right people. Love receiving food or book type gifts though!

Have we reached 10 yet? Does this list end?!!!!

  • Favourite Place – Mountains and more mountains…anywhere in the world
  • Favourite Day of the week – Friday; after I shut my office laptop and head for car parking…yay yay no work and only play for two days!
  • Favourite Flowers –  Not particularly flowery or planty…it’s a struggle to keep my Moneyplant alive but I do love Bougainvillea …reminds me of spring during my university years when there would be a riot of various colour of them and it would seem as if somebody had poured large vials of paints on the trees

Phew done!!!!

Finally the part I really like – I would like to highlight the following blogs for being brilliant, wonderful, funny, beautiful and generally enriching lives –

http://somanybooksblog.com

http://12novels.com

http://nonamesnofaces.wordpress.com

http://freepagenumbers.wordpress.com

http://classicconfusion.com/

http://tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com/

http://eggton.com

http://ayearofreadingtheworld.com

http://eagleeyededitor.wordpress.com

http://photobotos.com

Thank you all of you for inspiring me every day to laugh more, read more, write more and think more, especially from point of views contrary to my own!!

And here’s saving the best for the last – Thank you Lill and Jill for sharing your lives with us! You two make life a fun place to be in with all your roller coaster adventures and experiments! Discovering your site was one the best things and I think everyone should take a big slice out of your celebration of the joyous and downright funny takes on all the “moments” of each day!!  You gals are the best! Thank you for all those moments of sheer sitcom joy!!

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