ikigai- “reason to get up in the morning”
The refrigerator door stayed open a bit too long as I stood there grinning, transfixed in a spell of maternal happiness to see a gallon of milk in the door. A gallon of milk! This past year my husband and I became empty nesters, dropping our youngest off at college and returning to a home devoid of noise, activity, vibrancy, errant dirty socks, and gallons of milk. I would get a pang every time I opened the fridge and saw the tiny quart of milk that now rattled in the door, which more often than not started to spoil before we could finish it. We would make wan jokes about how lame the dishwasher had become, filled mostly with dirty coffee cups and spoons and an occasional plate or two. This past week my youngest son returned from a successful freshman year, his presence filling the house with as much thick color and warmth as the carpet of laundry now strewn on his floor. I love it. His older brother, one of the twins, returned home not long after, but he is only home for a brief stint as shortly he will be heading to New York City for a summer internship. He will be a senior next year, and the reality that soon real life (and the need to find a job) will be looming beyond college is not lost on him. He is coming to terms with something I have been thinking about lately, which is purpose.