I pull the thick flannel sheet a little higher over my shoulders without opening my eyes. As I lie on my side in the morning darkness, the temperature is in the single digits and the wind chill puts it below zero. Winter is really here.
I roll on to my back with my eyes still closed. I snuggle more deeply into sheets and try my usual tricks.
I mentally scan my body to notice how it feels.
I consider the good that lies ahead in my day to have a flash of gratitude.
I slowly wiggle my toes.
My body isn’t buying it this morning, but I manage to open my eyes. I reach my arm over to the night stand and press a button to hear news of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. On this day, news that might otherwise inspire me to “get up and at ‘em” sinks me lower into the dip in my mattress.
Next up in the news: Donte Colley spreading joy on Instagram with videos of exuberant dancing and enthusiastic messages like “You matter!”
Okay. This gets the job done. My feet hit the floor. I turn off the news to stay with the high energy and limit my intake of sad stories about murdered children, endless addiction, and my friends still not getting their paychecks from our federal government.
What gets us out of bed on winter mornings? The Japanese have a name for it. Ikigai—pronounced “icky guy.” Its English translation is “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you get out of bed in the morning.”
In the winter we travel more inward, be it to our hearts, our heads, or our beds. We slow down, like last week’s snow day when I spent hours preparing a roast chicken dinner that included homemade hummus to start and egg custard with a berry sauce to finish. When our pace is slowed, rushing is not required.
When we are cozy, we long to stay under the covers of comfort and our seeking to stay safe and warm lures us back to slumber. But even moving slowly, we can find delicious reasons to rise.
Within an hour I am out the door to meet my friend Arlene for breakfast. Arlene is a tall, beautiful blonde with a smile almost as big as her spirit. She has been single for the twenty or so years I’ve known her. On this day, she shares that she has found the person she plans to spend the rest of her life with.
My day has only just begun, and Arlene has reaffirmed for me just one source of my ikigai. To be present to the joy in the lives of others.
If I had no meaningful work (which I have) or no people to love (which I do) or beauties of nature to see (always), being present for a story of a friend’s joy would be reason enough to step gratefully into the world of winter any day.
Have you reflected on your ikigai?
How do you allow for any slowing in this season?
What helps you to remember your reason for getting out of bed?