Living Carefree vs Living with Intention: Can You Achieve Both?

It is often a question that contradicts its purpose. 

The definition of the two seem completely at odds with each other, though one cannot exist without the other. 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve internalized this question for what seemed like decades. Everyone has a different interpretation of it, and in every life stage a different circumstance of what it/this means. 

Do you know what kind of person you want to be? I didn’t. But my parents did. After many years of following a “timeline”, I thought I did too. 

Until I didn’t. It wasn’t until I started earning my own living that I became more socially aware, and awake, in a sense. I realized I knew nothing when I opened my eyes. They were bleary at best, and hazy for too long. Trying to see the big picture but in fact, it wasn’t the big picture that was important but rather the current picture. The details of the here and now. 

A few months back, I took a trip with my family to China, to see my father’s side of the family. They lived in a somewhat remote village in southwestern Guangdong. Going there was like going back in time. Even with modern luxuries, they lived like it was 1935. Seeing the family for the first time in my adult life was a refreshing welcome from the daily grind of life. 

After 20 minutes of trying to explain what I did for a living to them, it became obvious that everything I was saying was in the outrageous zone. To them, a way of life is defined almost the opposite of what I’m used to. Priorities are different, and vastly so. For instance, the importance of an ambitious life is overshadowed by tradition. It was sad, because I’d just wanted them to understand the importance of independence and the ambitions I had. The future. Equally sad, that I identifed with it so much that it practically defined me. 

Id woken up that night in a disarray of panic (and maybe jet lag) wondering what I’d done to myself. For the first time in my life, I realized my deepest fears, desires, and dreams. They were not aligned. Not in the sense where you feel completely and fully at ease. Part of me felt like pouring out my frustrations onto a journal to process these thoughts. And write until no words could come out. It was then that the question of living carefreely or with intention came up again. What does it mean? 

In many ways, these cultural differences with my family is simply that – differences. I mean, part of me questioned why I thought being ambitious was the most important. Why isn’t it to them? Maybe it isn’t just ambitions for yourself, as that would be selfish, but rather ambitions that move everyone forward so we are the same. 

When society influences us on how to be fulfilled, we tend to believe it is the only way. In fact there is no right or wrong way to exist. You live how you live while life unfolds. That is the end goal. It is how you interpret your life that sets you apart from your ego, your happiness and society. 

I was writing idly until I allowed myself to feel, to really capture the essence and swirl and feelings of the words. But more importantly, to loosely set goals of living without judgment, carefreely. As in, living without putting restraint on one’s mind. 

I went on a mission with one goal in mind: to live presently. To not get worked up over a future that has not yet come. And not yet guaranteed. At the same time, appreciating day to day like it is your last. 

Choose For Yourself 

Carefree doesn’t mean careless. I want to choose to fill my life with happiness and goals. Spend each moment of my day knowing how I’ve mindfully chosen something to exert my energy to, whether it be photography or writing, nourishing the body with whole foods, or people I meet. Those energies will create your feelings. These feelings, in turn, create contentment that all is well and okay. That you are just where you need to be. 

Dream, and be okay with it. But dream presently. 

If you only look to the future, you are not really living. Let your mind wander, and let go of resistance and opinions of others. Let your ideas of the world be set aside. It is not important. What is important is to identify your dreams and find ways to fulfill them, even if it is baby steps. I enjoy writing, and photography but rarely do I have time these days with work but make it a short term goal to reach little milestones. Soon, your dream will in full motion and you’ll be fulfilled from that. 

Development 

I often seek personal and professional development. I thrive on human connection and the ability to be a better version of me day after day. I set aside time to work on passion projects but I need a better system in ensuring I don’t forget about it when life gets busy. Like my relatives in China, another goal would be not to self-identify as we would ultimately leave this earth. That is not to say identity is unimportant, but rather understand that it is temporary, as all things in life are.

Live with active intention to be the best you can be but also live carefreely as you did when you were a child – seeing everything as if for the first time. Cultivating imagination, finding contentment in small details, and seeing the best in everyone. 🙂

So yes, is it doable to live carefreely while living with intent? Absolutely. 

Days Upon the Ocean

If I could bottle up the sea breeze, I would run my hands through the salted air, and capture the dewy sweet fragrance from the flowers that bloom in the Spring.

I would take it to your house and open up the bottle, pour it loose on your mantle, like sand from the ocean, warmed by the life-giving sun.

Light rays would burst through your window panes, like boats pushing past the docks.

We could run in the water.

Empty out sand out from our pockets.

Get swept up by where the sun meets the ocean.

We could live like that, in the sun drenched haze of your white window panes.

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Minimal

Jennifer Ngan photography
Jennifer Ngan photography
Perhaps one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life thus far is that wisdom comes through things we’ve learned either through nature, nurture, circumstance or failure. It can take one or all of those to happen before you see, really see, that everything on a surface level is really all that it is: the surface.

I recently started reading more about simplification and realize it is a thought provoking exploration into our lives and mindsets of today. Simplicity in the way our minds work; in the greatest sense, to be free from clutter. Now whether literally or figuratively, that is different for everyone.

In between Thoughts

Jennifer ngan photography
In just a short couple of weeks, I will be making my way to Alaska to explore the vast, and open land of rugged terrain, snow globe landscapes and wide expanses of space. Ominous, quiet tension of cold will be in the air, lurking about. Something about that cold will be different than anything I’ve ever experienced.

Mystery is enchanting. 

The grey skies, the gaseous rays of dancing lights, the sheets of stars that will be painted in the sky – a mystery in and of itself. I have always been moved by the unknown.

I’ve always been interested in cultures and communities, the human spirit. My desire to travel here was inspired by my curiosity to see a place in the most desolate of times. Trading comfort for less greener pastures, if only to see with my own eyes how small we are in this vast universe. 

Just a Repost From Another Lifetime 

Though it still holds true, at times. 

At some point in my life, I hope to be the greatest at something. I am marginally okay at a lot of things I teach myself, but there’s always that emptiness, the indescribable feeling of coming up short, never enough. Never good enough. I must stop comparing. 

I’ve always felt an ill-consuming indifference in my life though that is not say that I spend a majority of it complaining of such things. Much of my existence has been a good one; an acceptable, tolerable and fair one that I have come to understand. Though I think, curiously, in the back of my mind, this feels like settling. I don’t want to nor do I ever want to feel like “settling”. That isn’t me, not yet, and hopefully not ever. 

I’m terrified that I will never be able to get passed these feelings of monumental doom, these inner demons I’m losing to. The feeling of darkness consuming my every thought. Never good enough. Never.

Welcoming of the New 

Yet again, we start anew. Each day with a purpose of its own, living and breathing and appreciating life in all its spectacles and wonderment, never once looking back to dwell on a regret.

I have a strong outlook for the new year. My greatest goal this year, as it was last year, is to be a better version of myself than I was last year. 

Start new everyday. It is a privilege that I will not take for granted. 

Watch the sunrise and sunset a little longer. I try to capture the transition as much as I possibly can, as there is nothing more beautiful than the changing of colors reflecting off the sky. When I am witnessing pure lightness, it’s akin to seeing a blank canvas becoming a masterpiece. There are no words. 

Friendliness vs Friendship. I struggled a bit in 2016 trying to understand some people. Sometimes my heart didn’t want to accept what is ultimately true and I often mistaken friendliness for friendship even though my intuition warned me otherwise. I suppose I can seem naive but sometimes I feel it is a burden how hyper-aware I am in such situations. I can feel the awkwardness, yet I am unsure how to deal with it. It is like being deer-like in emotional headlights. I am aware, too aware, but somehow not accustomed to dealing with the idea of friendship on such a magnitude that I’ve created for myself. Something I want so much, but for absolutely no logical reason. 

My heart is growing slightly softer as I begin to let go and understand that not everyone has the same intentions as you. When I was in school, I was unpopular and craved friendship so much that it tore me up. It meant i sacrificed my happiness for the sake of others. In doing so, I created a toxic version of myself. I spent too much time analyzing shit that didn’t matter. I spent hours writing in my notebooks, doodling away, and hours trying to understand why I couldn’t be like the other girls – naive, but well liked. In the end, it didn’t really matter. What matters is what you think of yourself and how you want to perceive yourself. 

It is always harder when you are too aware. Something that is a blessing and a curse. This is still something I still struggle with, and something I hope to slowly let go of. 

Chapter 2  excerpt 

He is asleep. His breathing has the rhythmic quality of unconsciousness – it is shallow, regular but quiet. Slight hiss as air is drawn in through his nose, huff as it slides back out. He is on his side, his face away from the door, his knees bent and one arm tucked underneath the pillow. Asleep. A reversible condition, but I won’t wake him. Not yet, anyway. Not tonight. Someday, maybe.

I sat still in my own emptiness, letting it wash over so that I, too, can begin again. 

When I was in China, I visited a temple on a rainy day.

I was there to admire the beautiful architecture and the peaceful surroundings in an otherwise too-populated city.

Little did I know, I was observing the daily comings and goings of a regular day, with people making a stop to and from their daily lives to meditate, pray and gather. The monks who lived there worked as any worker would, saying hello to people, fixing the lights, sweeping, cooking. This was their home. I felt oddly out of place, yet strangely okay.

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