I was walking to Dowling Hall across the academic lawn, and noticed the steam from the smokestack.
Recently, as I begin to think about my career and life path, I have similarly begun to reflect on what an accomplished life means to me; more specifically, if a life lived for oneself is more or less complete than a life lived for others. In Kamo-no-Chomei’s Hojoki; Visions of a Torn World, the author presents insight on the matter. He writes, “If you care for others / you will be enslaved / by your own solicitude” (Kamo-no-Chomei, p. 58). Here, then, is the idea that if one only lives for the wellness of others, they cannot work towards their own wellness. Of course, one could argue his wellness is measured by the wellness of others, but therein lays a fatal flaw. If his generosity fuels his happiness, then he is being generous in order to fulfill his happiness, a selfish act in itself. On the other hand, however, if one is only concerned with themselves, their life is of little meaning or impact. The Tale of the Heike highlights the faults with a selfish lifestyle. Although, “Kiyomori’s fame and power had extended the length and breadth of Japan, […] his flesh rose into the skies […] as a transitory plume of smoke, and his bones survived only briefly before becoming one with the earth, indistinguishable from the sands of the beach” (Heike monogatari, p. 211-212). At the funeral, rather than expand on Kiyomori’s successes, the author decided to describe how the body burned, soon to be indistinguishable from the earth, soon to be forgotten. Thus to conclude, it seems that my legacy stems from what I do for others, while my happiness is derived from my selfish desires. Hence, to live an accomplished life I must find the balance I desire between happiness and legacy.