Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa

The novel Musashi chronicles one of the greatest swordsman of Japanese history. Set in the 1600s, the journey begins during Musashi’s youth when he is imprisoned in a cell containing nothings but books. With the guidance of a wise monk, he dedicates his life to learning the Way of the Sword.

This was not only a fun and enjoyable read, but as I read it I got the sense that I was struggling with the same deep questions that Musashi was. Musashi was constantly humble, always acknowledging that he had much to learn despite quickly disposing of all his highly qualified challengers. He strived toward reaching enlightenment, whatever that may mean, and perhaps enlightenment could only be known once you have obtained it.

Musashi’s discipline and materialistic deprivation may serve as a much needed reminder to most of today’s society. Though poor and without a home, Musashi was never trapped. Quite the opposite, he was free, and he spent his time developing his skills to the best of his ability. Now more than ever I feel the crunch of full time employment. Weekdays are dedicate to work, weekends to maintenance, free time to socialization. Should one not procure some time each week to his or her own development? What if life was the opposite, meaning you had an abundance of time for personal development and earned a living by working a few hours per week?

These predicaments are what I am struggling finding answers too. Luckily I can take solace in the fact that I have a first world problem. But I will continue to wonder the wisdom of delaying personal development until retirment.

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