Ever since I came to Japan life has slowed down for me. I've been taking my time to do things, and have really adjusted to the pace of a holiday lifestyle. It's given me time to think, and one thing that keepings popping up in my mind is: what do I find important in life? It's a question that will last a lifetime, but at least for now I've narrowed it down to two concepts: comfort, and time.
Time is obvious. I'm obsessed with it, really. It's about how to spend enough time at work, enough time with my friends and my girlfriend, and then still having enough time left to pursue my hobbies, procrastinate and get a good sleep. If I had an infinite amount of money I'd probably end up having a three day workweek. I would still work though, on things that interest me. I'm already very fortunate to be part of a company that lets me take long holidays (although since I'm a contractor, it's unpaid).
As part of the comfort criteria I would include having a proper apartment I can feel at home in without having to worry about mice, cockroaches, estate agents or other things. A place to relax is vital. The previously mentioned 'comfortable place to cycle to within 10 minutes' criteria also falls under comfort. Besides this, the availability of friends and girlfriend on short notice is hugely important to me. All these things are important to me, even if I don't 'utilize' them a lot. Having them near me and available makes me feel comfortable.
Other things that I think are important:
- Experiencing the passage of time and creating new memories.
- Learning new skills/interests - think about this from a 'future' point of view; learning things now is something you will remember in the future. (also, the more things you learn, the more you train your learning sense, so the easier it will be to learn. I really should resume studying kanji..)
- Improving your understanding of the people you know: find out why they do what they do.
- To have enough spare time to be able to allocate it as 'zen time' (time to do nothing else but think).
- Exercise - enough at least to give the body a jolt every couple of days and wake up the mind. I do care about losing weight and staying fit, but keeping a healthy mind is way more important to me.
I'm a bit surprised that travel is not included in my list. I can see it as part of the 'learning new interests' item, for learning about a new country and their culture. To summarize my thoughts about travel: I loved travelling around Japan, Australia, South Africa-Botswana-Zambia, the Seychelles and Iceland. All other places I visited either did not move me much or had a negative effect on me. Cuba in particular decreased my wanderlust a lot. After having been to various places, new places tend to have less of an impression. That said, I definitely want to see New Zealand and do some more cycling trips.
As I get older my criteria for what should be a 'good' life seem to get bigger and bigger. It's no longer enough to be a bachelor guy in a country where nobody understands you; now I also need to have a girlfriend and a big computer screen and a society that is not full of assholes etc. etc. Every time I notice something commendable in any society, in any country, I add it to my must-have-for-my-future-life list. It's a battle one cannot win, it does not take long until no place matches your criteria any more.
While these criteria are on the forefront of my mind, in the back of my mind must ring the Dokkodo.
- Accept everything just the way it is.
- In all things have no preferences.
- Be indifferent to where you live.