As I sat in the middle of a traditional Shinto wedding in Kyoto, experiencing what was undoubtedly one of the most unique ceremonies of union, I was overcome with anxiety. Strange feeling for a wedding, isn’t it? But hear me out. Me being there at that given moment in time was pre-determined. I thought to myself: “It had to be. How else would I find myself here?”
Okay, let’s rewind. A few years ago, I was in Kyoto, and decided to post something to Instagram Stories, something I rarely did at the time. Within a few minutes, I got a message. Somebody local had seen I was in Kyoto and asked to meet up for a drink. At first, I was taken aback. We had no prior correspondence and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. Less than five hours later, I was having a delicious fruit sour (shōchū mixed with fresh fruit) at a local lounge he had designed, fittingly called Sour.
At that time, he and his now wife were the perfect company and we couldn’t believe we had connected on a whim that from an outside perspective could seem like a friendship of 10 years, not 10 minutes. So many things had to align for this chance meeting and eventual friendship to blossom into my attendance at their wedding. It meant that… … I had to be personally interested enough to post on Instagram at that moment. … he had to see it at that given point in time (and through IG’s then “algorithm of the day”). … he had to have the confidence or have reason enough to reach out not just to say hello but to ask for a meetup. … I had to actually want to meet up with a stranger. … we needed to actually like each other. … the list goes on and on.
As I sat there, I kept thinking to myself, “is this how life plays out, in this pre-deterministic manner?” I should have been engaged with the beautiful event unfolding in front of me—two great friends coming together in union—but I was having this existential crisis, inside a Shinto temple. Luckily this only lasted for a week.
While that week made me question everything, as in how the complexities of life play out in this odd sequence, I grew restless with this concept. I was starting to nibble at something far bigger than what I was capable of understanding as it pertained to philosophy (if I was to quit trying at anything, would that in itself be part of the pre-determined game plan too?!). I settled on the idea of ownership and the effects it can have on our lives when we fully embrace it. “Ownership” has a pretty simple definition, but for me, it’s the freedom of choice to own a decision, when it’s available.
It’s also understanding that we should simply let fall to the wayside things that are beyond us and that we cannot influence. Controlling the narrative where we can is something that had led me, through trial and error, to something far more exciting—and far more rewarding. Ownership, as I’ve come to decide, is intoxicating.
It provides a sense of unbridled freedom. But remember, it’s about what you can control. If you’ve followed along with the monthly Editor’s Letter, there’s an underlying narrative where I wish everybody the chance to go out and own something. Because if we can do this, we’re not only freed from our own anxieties about what-ifs and opportunity cost, but also the unchangeable reality that fate—if you believe in it—delivers us.
Own an idea or a concept. Own the creative process. Own the outcome.
Until next month,