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20 November 2021

Asia - the magic of the Chinese knot and the Japanese IKIGAI

 

Hello Folks!

last night brought a full moon and its eclipse. We call this combination the Beaver Moon. According to the astrological rules, we should refrain from all rituals, because the Moon in Taurus is responsible for anxiety and dark forces. Have you felt yesterday's star arrangements?

Since childhood, I was interested in horoscopes, the arrangement of stars, riddles and curiosities. It was, in a way, an occupation to beautify the somewhat dark years of the People's Republic of Poland.

Living in Szczecin, I had a room with big windows on 3 walls, called the veranda. A great place because every night I could watch the stars from my bed and the moon accompanied me throughout my childhood. Hence, I feel a great fondness for our natural satellite. I love watching the moon. Maybe because it reminds me of my childhood? I also remember the maps of the sky in both skies in the atlas that my parents gave me for Christmas. It was a discovery. The southern sky, how different from ours, the northern one - the Southern Cross, the Belt of Orion ...

I dreamed of traveling to the southern hemisphere to see these constellations with my own eyes ...
And here I am - in Asia, living and traveling making my childhood dreams come true. And this is a completely unexpected but desirable state.

Analyzing the whole situation, answering the question many times - How did you find yourself in Asia? - I say that it is the influence of karma or, if you like, fate. It is a wonderful destiny that has found me at the most opportune moment. And that destiny was in the form of an elderly woman. But first things first.

 

My first visit to Asia was in the second half of October 2013. I flew to Qingdao, Shandong Province, China, for a one-week process workshop. It was supposed to be for a week, training, workshops and a return to Poland.

It was a journey of a lifetime. China and Qingdao made a colossal impression on me. It was a different world. How different from ours. I have already described my impressions of this stay in a separate article, which you can find here.

In my free time, after the workshops and at the weekend, I walked around Qingdao, the promenade and the Olympic Center. Lovely places. During one of these walks, I decided to buy travel souvenirs and gifts for my friends and family.

 

 

Looking for gifts...

One of the decorative elements commonly used were red lanterns, as it turned out later, symbols of the Lunar New Year and fancy braids called "Chinese knot". These, in many colors and sizes, decorated with gold threads and Chinese characters, seemed perfect for a gift. Small, light and interesting in form. I decided to buy 4 pieces.

While walking down the promenade, I noticed several stalls offering all kinds of souvenirs including Chinese knots. When I went to one of the stands to pick up souvenirs, I felt a light pat on my calf. It turned out to be an older woman, although judging by the wrinkles on her face, I would say an aged woman. She started to say something to not say, and I asked my colleagues in the office to translate. The old lady asked me to buy some souvenirs from her. She looked really old but I was interested in her eyes. Beautiful, brown, radiant eyes. They did not match the wrinkled face. Seeing my interest in nodes, after all, I just bought 4, she asked me to buy more from her. She also said something that I will remember for the rest of my life - "... I have been making these knots since I was a child, I put all my love and passion into them, this way, each knot contains a bit of my sweat and prayers. These knots help to support my family. Please buy more, it will help me and my family a lot and it will bring you luck and change your fortune. They will make you and your family's life positively synchronize with destiny ... ". I was touched. I felt I had to buy these knots. Not only because the old lady asks me to. They were just beautifully made.

And I bought 15 pieces. They cost little, about  2 USD each, and were impressive. When issuing the change, the old lady was whispering something else but could not be translated.

It was on... Saturday, October 19, 2013, full moon ...

  

After a week in Qingdao, I went to Shanghai.

Before I left, at a farewell meeting with colleagues from China, I received an unusual question - Arek, would you like to join our team? It seemed like a polite goodbye at the time. However, when a few months later I received a job offer and contract terms, I was shocked.

After much reflection, I decided to accept this proposal. It was supposed to be for 3 years so I decided that I could do it.

At the same time, I noticed changes in my life, difficult things started to fall into place, everything was coming easier.

 

 

 

Destiny...

When I landed in Qingdao a year later, in October 2014, more and more positive changes occurred in my life. The nature of the work changed from the originally agreed one, thanks to which I was able to travel to Europe and Poland every 3 months. After 10 months, I received a promotion and proposals to move to Shanghai. With this change, my scope of responsibility increased on a global scale, and I began to travel all over Asia and Europe. Professional successes were intertwined with personal ones. I have met new people all over Asia and have a world who have brought joy and wisdom into my life.

However, I still did not associate these events with the purchase of souvenirs from an old lady.

Only after another series of successes did reflection come. What if the old lady was right. What if it wasn't accidental? Is this what our karma - destiny speaks to us?

Today I am convinced that this was exactly what happened in my case. Finding a passion, combining this passion with work, successes, serious changes for the better in private life. All this led me to the conclusion that it was this moment, showing understanding and helping a person in need, that had a dramatic impact on my life.

Today I believe that my presence in Asia is not a coincidence but a destiny.

Fulfilling my childhood dreams, fully discovering my passion in life and establishing many loving friendships. It is also a chance to explore Asia, learn about cultures, differences and similarities.

What's more, living in Asia, you can notice a lot of vitality of the local inhabitants. It is quite common to see 60, 70 or 80-year-olds dancing in parks.

So, can I translate my destiny into an omen of a longer life? If so, what could be the basis for such a submission? The answer came with the first trip to Japan.

After all, my passion for KAIZEN has its roots in Japan. Being in China, I was able to plan a visit to the country of the blooming cherry trees. And this is how I learned the mysterious word IKIGAI.

 

 

IKIGAI...

Visiting Japan several times, walking in Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto, I have noticed many elderly people who are coping very well with the pace of modern life. Such "teenagers" in their 80s. A lively step, a smile on their face, good energy, generally speaking, visible from a distance. I immediately remembered some demographic studies that show that Japan has the highest percentage of people over the age of 100. Interesting, isn't it? These studies show that the largest number of such people live on the island of Okinawa, in the southern archipelago of the Japanese Islands. For every 100,000 people living in Okinawa, 25 are 100 years old and over. This is the highest percentage of any community in Japan and far above the global average. Drilling down on the topic, asking my friends in Tokyo, I once again heard the cryptic word: IKIGAI.

While discussing what IKIGAI is, we came to a few conclusions which I will share.

First of all, everyone has their own IKIGAI, they just need to be noticed and cared for. Secondly, it is closely related to the "meaning of life". Third, the modern way of life distances us from nature, causing us to easily lose the meaning of our existence. Powerful forces (money, desire for power, domination, drive for success) affect our lives almost every day, do not let them take control of you. Our intuition and curiosity are a good advisor in the search for your own IKIGAI. All you have to do is follow the things that make you happy, abandon the things you don't like. Get carried away by emotions and curiosity, be busy with what brings meaning to your life and makes you happy. And don't say you don't have IKIGAI. You just don't know about it yet. I would compare it to a passion - everyone has a passion, but not everyone has discovered it yet. Example? Me, I discovered my passion and my IKIGAI at the age of 42. Late? I do not think so. There is always time to change, to do something different. Moreover, it doesn't have to be a big deal. Being a good parent, human or neighbor can also be your IKIGAI.

There is no one perfect strategy to find your passion, your IKIGAI. But what you can learn from the people of Okinawa is that you shouldn't worry too much about searching. Simply take care of what makes you happy, being surrounded by people you love and who love you. IKIGAI will get back to you.

 

 

IKIGAI - 10 rules

1. Be active, don't go into "life retirement" too soon

Those who give up doing the things they like lose their meaning in life too soon. Continue to do things that add value to your life. Continue your passion, make progress, bring changes to your life but also to the lives of others. Change the world around you, even if you are already in professional retirement. Or maybe because ot that.

2. Do not rush

Being in a hurry is inversely related to quality of life. As the old proverb says - "You go slower, you will go further". Leaving the rush behind, time and space have no other meaning.

3. Don't fill yourself up

The Pareto 80/20 principle also works here. If we want to live longer, let us not eat our fill. We should do enough not to go hungry, but not to fill ourselves up to our fullest. A glass of water before a meal helps to achieve a feeling of fullness in an incomplete stomach.

4. Surround yourself with good people

Friends are the best medicine for sorrows, for taking away worries, for sharing experiences. A good friend can light up even the gloomiest day.

5. Get ready for the next birthday

Water stays fresh when it is in motion ... The same is true of our bodies. If you want to keep in good shape until your next birthday, take care of the daily "service" (gentlemen, this also applies to you). Additionally, exercise triggers happiness hormones, so your well-being will be better. Important note - no one requires us to run marathons. Gymnastics, yoga, whatever is good enough.

6. Smile!

Smiling is not only a relaxing activity for the facial muscles. It's a way of life. Not always everything is perfect, that's a fact. But perhaps it is worth remembering that being here and now is a privilege for which many, now deceased, would give up everything. Little things, little victories are always a good excuse to smile. In my experience in Asia, a smile overcomes all barriers in dealing with Asians.

7. Get closer to nature

We live in the 21st century, most of us in the cities. However, we still remain part of the ecosystem. Let us not forget about it and let us connect with Nature as often as possible. Forest, lake, plot. Here we can "charge" our vitality.

8. Give thanks

To parents, for calling you into this world, for nature, because it provides fresh air and food that you eat every day. Thank your family, friends and colleagues only for being there, for helping but for illuminating your world with kindness and a smile. It's for free. And it makes you feel happy.

9. Live here and now

Stop regretting the past, stop being afraid of the future. The present is all we have. Make the most of every moment. Make it worth remembering.

10. Follow your passion, your IKIGAI

You definitely have your passion, unique talent. Everyone has. This is "it" that drives your life. If you haven't discovered your passion yet, make it your passion to search for it.

 

I am living proof that it is worth having dreams and looking for your passion. Today I say it with conviction - I found myself in Asia not by accident. It was karma that brought me here and IKIGAI taught me how to benefit from the goodness of life.

So every year, on the occasion of the Lunar New Year, I buy "Chinese knots" and lanterns to keep the tradition and good luck.

Somewhere in my head I also thought that this old lady is a local "whisper", that is, a woman popular in Podlasie, in East part of Poland, who uses whispered spells to heal someone or change the course of fate. I remember because my grandmother, Jasia, was telling about whispers when I was visiting her.
Who knows...

I wish you to find your IKIGAI as soon as possible. It is never too late, you are never too old to make changes in your life.

 

Now it`s time for a sip of green tea, the beneficial effects of which have been confirmed by the inhabitants of Okinawa.

Good luck!

       

 

 

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