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.

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.

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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Chapter 1: untitled wip 


Half second of disorientation dissolves sharply into perfect awareness. Pain radiating from my face. Stabbing ache in ribs like a punch in the gut. Broken rib, probably. Uncertain. Hurts on inhale, hurts on exhale. It is mid morning.

Strange dream lingers: You with teacups for eyes, sharp razor blades for fingers: disturbing. Odd sensation coiled up in my chest, like a breath not caught. Distress. Fear. No. Could it? Even with teacups for eyes, it’s still only you. Sadness, perhaps. Loss. Regret? It fades. It’s morning, dreams always fade.
It is thirty five degrees outside; nearly five degrees cooler than yesterday. 

The long slow trudge toward winter. Muted light peaking through the window; it is roughly quarter past nine, drizzling, and deeply overcast. Has been raining since somewhere around 4am. Will be muddy down the road; must remember to wear rain boots.
Left leg stiff, more than sore: twisted? Probably strained? Surely an Impact of a fall. Secondary injuries untended. It’s okay, bodies heal. A little pain never hurt anyone.

Mozart concerto in my head. Why? He likes Mozart. Doesn’t ever seem to know it is when he hears it. Doesn’t seem to care.

“I love that, what was it?” he’ll say, sitting, eyes closed, relaxed. I imagine what he says instead is, I love you, and means it. It is like sunshine. 

It is radiating out from him, like sun heat, like rings of smoke. Though he hasn’t said it yet, only feels it, feels the urge to. And then here I am caught in the moments just before he says it, the moment when it’s utterly true, before it has a chance to degrade, fall apart. He’s about to say it, to say, I love you, to me, of all people, to me, words about to appear in the air in front of him like hazy moving clouds. 

I let it hover over me, the idea, the sensation. Listening to Mozart, and him sitting in his chair enjoying Concerto B, instead of loving me, but it is so close. I concentrate, push the dire depths of my hopeless heart strings into the music. “I love” (you), he says, “what was that?”

One can only hope. 

Why must I have a soft heart, a romantic heart? 

*****

I don’t want to open my eyes yet; reality is never quite as interesting. My subconscious is mad.

Nose runny, forehead sore, mild ache in left mandibular lateral incisor.

Eyes are watery, moisture from what exactly? Damp eyelashes. The fuck. Unconscious tears. Would I cry if I lost him? I think I would. Emotional wound is like a too- overwhelming physical one, prompting a physiological reaction. 

The world is a hazy gray place once the eyes are open. The dull light of morning. Off-ivory, bare walls, bedroom door shut tight, dull ceilings and the pattern of raindrops and streaks on the window.

I will continue on, I always do. Humans have the ability to adapt, and it is inevitable, this loss. But the memories, they will never be taken away. 

_______________________________

Charles is moving around the kitchen; water boiling in the water kettle. Boxes and boxes of teabags against the tabletop, next to the sugar squares. He’s still groggy, probably didn’t sleep well. Nightmares again (of course). One of these days I will just barge right in there, I will stop Charles’ nightmares with the sheer force of my will. I will stare them down, and fight them. He’s swearing under his breath now, why? Tired? Frustrated? 

Charles’ tired feet against the floor, walking toward my bedroom with a mug of hot liquid in his hand. He walks more carefully when he’s bringing me a cup of tea, as if something dreadful will happen if he spills it. Sensation in my chest, like my heart smiles as he approaches. I know the symptoms of being desperately, wistfully in love. Sort of wish I didn’t, but you can’t wish feelings away.

He taps on the door, like a polite housemate. A creak as the door opens slightly. I love that he doesn’t care what I think about it; he comes in because he needs to, because he wants to. Wants to see that I’m all right, whether or not I’m all right. Charles, he’s like a sunrise rising from the horizon. He feels like warmth sneaking into a cold place. His hair, dishevelled, his face full of sleep. I want to kiss him, I want to wrap myself around him and never let him go. Morning is not so gray when he’s here. He is my palette of colors. Swatches of meadow light, in a dewy tropical forest. 

He calls my name, voice is rough; hours of not speaking through the night. A rusty instrument. Imagine someone, hidden away in a cave for years, living a life of sleep and prayer, not speaking to a soul for years, then trying to form words with vocal chords that have been so disused they’ve forgotten their purpose; the human body needs to be used to fully function. Like your heart, says the my knowing subconscious. Like your heart, Luna. 

Metaphor: not really my area.

Charles sits down on my bed, the small of his back against leg. He is the very definition of colors, of warmth. Must act bored, act vaguely annoyed.

He’s set the tea down on my bedside table, his hand moving to my face.

“How are you this morning?” Always the protector, my Charles. No matter what happens. Light touches against my cheekbones, testing the bandage across my forehead, his fingers trace lightly at my torn lip.
“Fine. It’s fine” Deep breath; accidental cough; wince from the pain. Charles’ hands against my chest, only the thin material of a t-shirt between us. Eyes flutter shut again.
“Pass me my tea.” Not a question, it is a demand. And finally trying to talk. Heart beats weirdly. Warm mug in my hand, warm fingers on mine. “Thank you” I say, it is not uncharacteristic but I meant to say something else that will confuse him. He stops, and I open my eyes and watch him. He smiles. He looks concerned. I must look not great.

“That’s all right,” he says. His voice is gentle, soft like his hands.

I will put on my rain boots before going up to the mountains. It will not be difficult, and I am intensely private. I enjoy the solitude. I will walk carefully for Charles’ sake and Charles will hold my arm, in a friendly way. He loves another, and while it is heart wrenching, I want him to be happy. 

We will have dinner, and I will eat, at Charles’ insistence. Maybe soup at a shop next door. A quiet little cavern. And when we come home again I will play some Mozart to write, the music for him really. He will keep his eyes open. And he loves the music. 

And that will be enough.