“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked”
– Victor Frankl
We often talk about or hear people talk about such things as “I can’t wait until I get my new job/house/partner” or even in the Dojo “my black belt”. Reaching a certain goal is seen as a reason for living and attaining that goal is seen as the end, “my life is complete”.
Thinking about this I have started to come to the realisation that we should never complete the journey, and we should always have some destination that is just out of reach. By this I mean that it is the striving to reach the goal, not the goal itself, that gives the meaning to our lives. If we reach a point where we feel we have attained everything, there is a good chance we will die pretty soon after. Look at the statistics for people (especially men) who retire and have no hobbies or interests as work has been everything, they often die within a few short years of retirement. Pretty bleak I know but evidence seems to back it up.
If we keep the mind-set that the journey is what gives us meaning then every challenge, every success, every up and down brings us purpose.
I am not saying don’t have goals in your life; they can be important but use the goals as a light to follow as you travel the path.
Also, how we deal with each bump in the road defines who we are as a person. As Victor Frankl stated:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
Live the journey, be the journey, it is everything. Use each life lesson no matter how crappy it may seem to us at the time, to grow and develop so at the end you can look back and think, “I was a good traveller through this life”.
In our martial arts training the DO is the journey. It is a journey on the tatami but also part of the greater path each of us are on. Travel this road with the mind set of this is life this is everything.
Have goals such as achieving a shodan or teaching, but never lose sight of the fact that each step we take on the Budo path is the most important part of being a true martial artist, including the highs and the lows. Aikido training, as in life will ask you questions, how you choose to answer them will determine who you are.
Aikido practice can be a big part of teaching us about life and how to react to it.
We are born alone, we die alone, but it’s up to us to fill the middle bit.
Living is the meaning of life, Budo can enhance that meaning.
Enjoy the trip before it’s over.