I was 18 when I got my first tattoo. We were in Fort Lauderdale for the holidays. It was a pilgrimage my family did along with many other Northerners, escaping the bitter Canadian cold to seek the warm lands of the South. Come Fall, heaps of families would pack their cars and drive to Florida. My father was one of them. Rather than journey at a normal pace and enjoy the scenery, he was an endurance driver and wouldn’t stopped until arrived. I have vivid memories of watching for hours the American landscape change in front of my eyes while listening to Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet home” on my Sony Walkman.
Sitting in that car, carried by the road and lost in my thoughts, I dreamed of new places. My High School years were a dark time in my life. I was a lonely teenager, a young man eager for connections. I didn’t fit in at school. In fact, I didn’t fit in pretty much anywhere. I was an outcast, a warrior with no tribe. I remember telling myself that perhaps I wasn’t meant to fit in because it wasn’t my place to begin with. Maybe it was because I belonged to another world, to another place, and if I kept searching, I would one day find the road that would bring me home.
I am not sure exactly how the idea came to be. I don’t know if I had seen something on the television or had read in a National Geographic about some far remote indigenous custom, but what I do remember is a deep yearning for my physical body to become the chronicler of my journey home. Through an art form old of thousands of years, through pain and permanence, I would etch the chapters of my self discovery within my skin so as the years go by, I would remember where I came from and how far I have come.
For reasons that no one will ever know, and for as long as I can remember, I have always felt deeply connected to Japan, even though I have never been there. I have always been attracted to its aesthetics, its values, its relationship with nature and its culinary tastes. The philosophies of Zen, Wabi Sabi, Ikigai, and Shinto made sense to me and, not only were they rooted on principles found in nature, but the values they promoted were parallel to my Code of Living. It comes to no surprise that Japanese calligraphy became the brushstroke of my story.
It is said that there is power in owning your name. In the groundbreaking and famous movie Spirited Away, directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, the main antagonist Yubaba steals the name of her workers binding them into a contract of eternal hard labour unless they can miraculously recall their full names. I wanted to stake the ground and mark the beginning of my journey, so on my right shoulder plate, I inked my name. I was forever protecting my identity and committing myself to a life empowered by who I was and what I believed in. Sitting on that tattoo parlor chair in Fort Lauderdale, at the age of 18, the warrior in me awakened.
Through the course of next 25 years, 11 more tattoos would appear, each adding a piece to my puzzle, one by one creating the story of the man who is writing these lines today. At 26, in Antibes, on the Mediterranean coast of France, 3 more calligraphy were added on my back: “Searching For Myself” on my left shoulder plate, “Me” at the top of my spine and “Sea” at the bottom of my spine. My back was my message to the invisible world, a world of spirits and beliefs: “My name is Daniel, I am a man of the ocean and on a journey to self discovery”. Up to that point, all my ink was in some way, hidden from me, visible only when looking behind in front a mirror. At 28, in Los Angeles, on the Sunset Strip, the warrior became a man. Moving to the front of my body, I faced the mirror and embraced the person I was becoming: on the left shoulder, Fudo Myo-o, leader of the 5 great Kings, known for his immovable faith, one the right shoulder, Ryujin, a Japanese Dragon that symbolizes the power of the ocean, on my left chest “Ka Dō” (ruled by the fire) and on my right chest “Nichi Dō” (ruled by the sun). In 2014, for my 40th birthday, I took ownership of my destiny and hoisted my colors for everyone to see. On my forearms, 4 more inks were added: “The Power of Nature”, “Stop Breathe Relax Listen”, “Kitsune Keimō (Enlighten Fox)” and “Live to Inspire”
I made a vow 26 years ago to explore the unbeaten path and find myself, seeking a road that would bring me home. This journey has had its share of ups and downs, wins and losses, joys and tragedies, but ultimately it lead me here today, married, content, and dedicated to something bigger than me. This Odyssey is etched on my body, carved in a style that connects me to a faraway Land that has given me much. Without even ever visiting it, Japan and its culture have been with me all along, helping me define and express where I couldn’t find the words. And now, they are taking me to a new level.
I am extremely humbled and honored to announced the support and sponsorship by the Japanese luxury car maker, LEXUS.
I have always aligned myself with companies I believed in, brands that were value driven and family like, where the quality of the experience, the quality of the product, the desire to innovate and push and the authenticity of the culture were priorities.
I have spent considerable time learning about Lexus and what drives the company, the values its exist under, and the vision it has for the future. While it would be easy for me to come up with some poetic story on how the company is inspiring, it wouldn’t be fair to you. My work is not about elevating nor selling brands. My mission to is promote a lifestyle and mindset that has depth, growth, empathy, empowerment and is sustainable. My goal is to create content that transcends, inspires, educates and enriches. Lexus’s support will elevate my work and open new roads to me, giving me a platform that I could only dream of, and for that I am extremely grateful.
I invite you to learn more about Lexu’s Takumi (artisans), it is truly inspiring!
“LEXUS’s vision is to create amazing experiences by transforming function into emotion, performance into passion, and technology into imagination.”