A year ago I started an internship with Ronnie Fieg specifically and Kith in general. A few months later Ronnie hired me into a management and creative position that I’ve been in since May of last year. This week will be my last week with the company – I’ve decided it’s time for me to go. When Ronnie hired me he knew he had me on loan – my calling lays elsewhere, which I let him know on day one. I wanted to be involved with Kith and learn what I could and maybe have some positive affect. I’ve done a lot of all of those things in this last year and am sad to leave this chapter behind me.
I can tell you now that I will have a lot of regrets about leaving. The old adage is, “No Regrets,” which I think is bullshit. If you never regret anything I think it’s a marker of never failing, which means you’ve never risked anything. What Ronnie has set up for the next year is really unbelievable. What he’s shared with us (which is usually less than half of his full plan) is stuff that’s never been done. There are projects that you’re expecting (obviously some incredible sneaker collabs), and others that would never be on a list of your wildest guesses. The projects that I’ve gotten to see are exquisite, and those that are still in development are awe inducing. Kith as a company is tiny – much smaller than most people imagine. When I leave there will be 2 people in the Kith offices – Ronnie and Thomas. Matt will be in the basement under the shop packing boxes and answering phone calls and emails. Everyone else who works for Kith full-time is in one of the two shops. How we’ve done it this long is a lot of hard work and a little magic. I have nothing but love for everyone at Kith, and cannot wait to rejoin the legions of fans looking forward to what’s next and cheering the team on from the sidelines.
Now my big question: What’s next for me? I promised myself I wouldn’t sacrifice truth for brevity, so skip this if you like. It’ll pay off if you stick around for it, I hope.
Since I graduated from college I’ve danced from one career to the next. Starting in theater (as an actor and playwright), on to yoga instruction, then to film, and most recently, Kith. I’ve had incredible relationships with people in each of these fields, people who are playing at the top. And I realized recently it’s because I latch on to people who are on their dharma. You’ve probably heard of “dharma” before if you watched LOST, and even if you haven’t you know what it is, you just didn’t know its name. There are a lot of translations of “dharma,” but it’s an old word from the Vedic tradition (the spiritual tradition that gave rise to Hinduism and Buddhism), which basically says it’s your “divine duty.” It’s what God put you on this planet to do. In the Bhagavad Gita (super old book, probably older than the Bible), a warrior, Arjuna, is complaining to his friend, Krishna (God in disguise), that he has to go to war and kill his friends and family members in an epic battle between good and evil. “Wouldn’t it be better,” I would paraphrase him saying, “if we all gave up this war business and became monks in the mountains?” God basically responds, “Don’t be a fucking idiot. You’re a warrior, your job is to be a warrior. This world needs you to be a warrior, and if you don’t do that you’re fucking yourself up and fucking everyone else up.” We all have our parts to play that are ours and ours alone.
Macklemore talks a lot about dharma in his music, but in his song Vipassana he says,
“I was put here to do something before I’m lyin’ in that casket
I’d be lyin’ on the beat if I said I didn’t know what that is
The world’s a stage and we play a character, I found him
It took me 20 something years and a bunch of shitty sound checks “
Basically he’s saying he knows what his dharma is, he recognizes that he’s gotta be this one little piece in the puzzle that makes up all of us.
Before YOLO, everyone was saying “Just do you,” which is actually an interpretation of one of the things Krishna says to Arjuna when Arjuna wanted to escape his seemingly impossible dharma. Krishna said,
“It is better to perform your dharma poorly than someone else’s dharma well.”
Just do you.
A lot of people go their whole lives never knowing their dharma. Or they divorce themselves from even finding it. Maybe they know what it is but because of car payments, parental expectation, or seeming impossibility they give it up. Please don’t think I’m trying to say that if you follow your dharma you will do something on the world’s stage.
Many people’s dharma is raising children to the best of their ability. My Algebra teacher was on her dharma – she taught the shit out of algebra to 8th graders in a tiny school in upstate Connecticut. She loved every minute of it. Everything about it, the math, the kids, communicating complex information and processes in such a way that was nurturing and taught the systems as well as engendering curiosity, mastery, and (most importantly) confidence. She’s a math genius, offered a half a million dollars to go work for big oil and help them with drilling. But she would rather get paid a pittance to do her divine work.
I find a lot of people who don’t know what their dharma is, and that’s okay. We live in a world that sells very few versions of dharma. It seems most people think that they should have a dharma like someone on tour wearing leather pants, or someone else on the Heat. But pursuing someone else’s dharma will always leave you unsatisfied, creating a feeling of lacking, and ultimately force you to fight harder for something you think you need but don’t. It’s a horrible, damaging, and destructive cycle.
Macklemore is lucky that he knows what his dharma is – when you listen to his music you can hear it, every word he speaks is truth. Whether it’s in his love song to his Cadillac or describing his shame with his relapse. I came to Kith because Ronnie knows what his dharma is, and he’s on it. He burns for it. Whether it’s designing a sneaker in 5 minutes that now sells on eBay for 4 figures, or a jacket that went through 8 samples over a year that never gets released. Dharma isn’t about results, it’s about the work. It’s not the meaning of life, it’s the action of it.
I discovered my dharma, my work, a few years ago. I’m one of the lucky ones. I know exactly what it is I need to do. So, I’m going to go do that. I have to do that. When I was talking John (the a designer for Real Eyes Realize) he told me that I was being really brave. But, what I told him and what is true, is that it’s not bravery when it’s the only option.
I’m not sure where it’s going to take me – and that’s really scary. There’s a lot of fear. A lot of doubt. If I wanted to stay comfortable, getting all the sneakers I want, catching praise for something that I’m only okay at (really, there are so many better product photographers than me), I could stick around. There’s a lot of work to do at Kith, some of which I’m alright at. But, there’s something that I’m good at that I need to bring to the world – even if it ends up amounting to nothing. There’s some work I need to do. If I didn’t do this it would be the great shame of my life. I opened saying that regret is a part of life, especially if you’re living fully. But there are some regrets that are unforgiveable. Passing up on your dharma is one of those things. Because your dharma is the work you do for your world, not yourself.
So, I’m going to go write a few books. (I told Ronnie early last year about these books. That I think they’re going to change the world. But, we’ll see. I’ve got to write them first – and then you’ll all have to decide.)
Thanks for sticking with me guys. I’ve been treated better than I could have hoped. This isn’t goodbye, because I’ll be in line with you now. See you on the other side.
(And, yes, you can all unfollow me on Twitter and Instagram now. I won’t be offended.)