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.
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.