Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Sense of Purpose.

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." -- C.S. Lewis

Recently, I saw the movie Nebraska, in which an older gentleman named Woody Grant receives a sweepstakes letter suggesting he might be a million dollar winner. Woody's family warns him that this is a scam; nevertheless, Woody determines to do whatever it takes to get to Nebraska to claim his prize (even if this means walking all the way from Montana).
Father, mother, brother & cousin.
Woody’s indomitable spirit made me think about the concept of ikigai, a Japanese word that roughly translates as something to live for, or reason for being. For Woody, whose aged body and mind reveal the long-term effects of alcohol abuse, getting to Nebraska wasn’t just about the prize. Rather, it was about striving towards a significant, larger-than-life goal. Getting to Nebraska represents Woody's ikigai.
Ikigai is integral to life satisfaction no matter what age you may be. Even so, it is more challenging for older persons when goals are besieged by a myriad of obstacles such as health issues, loss of loved ones, and financial difficulties. My own immigrant parents have had many dreams, and also experienced great disappointments due to illness, loss of income, and family discord. Despite hardships, my parents courageously pushed themselves to get up everyday and to move forward. 
My Buddhist mentor Daisaku Ikeda, who turned 86 this past January, states, “This lifetime will never come again…to live without regret, it is crucial for us to have a concrete purpose and continually set goals and challenges for ourselves…” Are we ever too old for dreams? For me, the answer is no, but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and comments. Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog.

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