I’ve been procrastinating over starting this.
Why? Because it’s my day off. Because I’m feeling laconic. Because there’s a lot of stuff out there on The Internet, and it’s kind of hard to be exploring it while I’m writing this. I resolved to finally settle in and write, and you know what I did? I opened a tab to The AV Club to check out what pop-cultural happenings are afoot. That’s how zoned in and on task I am right now. You really want to know how zoned in and on task I am? After writing that, I opened my Facebook tab and clicked around a bunch, accomplishing nothing and learning even less. It’s my day off, get used to it.
So why should you out there be reading what I’m writing here? TL;DR: You shouldn’t. There’s no good reason to be dialled into this slop. Just because I arbitrarily decided over six years ago that I’d write for at least half an hour each day, that doesn’t imply it’ll provide value for others. I kid. Sometimes I write fun stuff, but since I’ve become happy and satisfied in my life, it’s sort of delivered diminishing returns. While I think the tortured artist thing is a harmful myth, I’ve unfortunately been creatively occupied in other areas, and it’s left dwindling scraps for this project. Soz.
The concept of Ikigai crossed my mind yesterday. It’s a Japanese concept relating to finding one’s true purpose, or what activates you. Ikigai takes four poles and overlaps them in a floral Venn diagram. These are: What you’re good at, what the world needs, what you love, and what you can be paid for. There are intersections between the different poles, but the intersection of all four is Ikigai. I’ve talked about it before, but from a sense of longing. It’s such a promising concept, and staring at it from the outside can be a harsh wakeup. Wikipedia explains it well enough, but maybe not as well as this wonderful diagram.
Things lately have changed for me, and looking at Ikigai, I realised I’m in it. I know I’ve been talking often about my job, but it’s a novelty to want to talk about it. I love my job, doing Described Video for television. It’s challenging creatively and mentally. I have to constantly think about audiences, what information they need to know, their capacity for vocabulary, what would make a scene pop for them. I have to write in my head as I go, and fit whatever I think of into restrictive gaps between dialogue. It’s something that the world needs, or at least it helps people. I’m making programming accessible for those who’d otherwise struggle. I do a lot of cartoons, and my brain always goes back to the idea of helping kids get to watch their favourite shows. I know how much I loved cartoons, and how the style of humour totally influenced my world view/creative thought. I could be helping youngsters get the same out of their programming. I’m paid well for what I do, and my shorter shifts allow me to have a real work/life balance. I can tend to my needs both physical and emotional. I don’t get stressed, I’m taking care of myself and having time with the people I love. Lastly, I’m good at it. I’m learning and growing. I care about the work enough to want to improve. I feel personal pride in knowing that these skills I’ve wanted to express for so long are getting used. It’s a bizarre nexus of unconventional skills, and they just so happen to align with ones I’ve been honing for years.
It’s incredibly humbling to look at this list and think back to the last time I thought of Ikigai. I was good at what I did, but it didn’t fulfil me. I hated the work, I was underpaid, and it wasn’t helping anyone. I felt empty, and lacked the kind of self-worth that I knew I could obtain. I’ve now achieved a kind of alignment that’ll enable me to seek out more. To do more, help others and share what I can. I feel activated, and it’s an uncannily worthwhile sensation.
Of course, that doesn’t stop me from procrastinating on my days off. Do you REALISE how much internet is out there?