I’d planned on arriving in California next Friday, June 5th, to celebrate Baum-kuchen’s 10th anniversary. My sons and I had talked about it for months. Even though I’ve “known” Wakako and her family, and the BK team for years now, I’ve never actually met any of them, face to face, in person. That said, in my heart, I feel as if I’ve met Wakako before, as though we have had conversations over tea or coffee as if we understand something about one another, something unspoken that gets to the core of who we are. There are people in the world that we “meet” like that, people who were never strangers to us. To me, those people remind me of the connections we have to one another, connections that are deeper than we often recognize. Perhaps these are the threads that hold all of humanity together, over miles, and over time. And it is that which keeps me from being sad about having to postpone our trip because of this global crisis.
Wakako and Frido have created, what to me, has been a beacon of light on my life journey. I discovered their website during a particularly challenging time in my life. Writing in a notebook has always been my anchor. In fact, it was and has always been more than writing in a notebook. It was the use of analogue tools - papers, pens, stickers, calendars, and so on, that represent a kind of simplicity and order - a lifestyle that embraces the pause. And when I read what Wakako writes, and see the way they function as a family, I think their studio and their brand are more than just a collection of curated items; it is the embracing of that slower rhythm, and that pause, which enables us to embrace life, nourish our souls and appreciate the journey.
I come back to that word, “journey.” I find it in one of the phrases BK uses from time to time, “The journey is the destination.” I don’t remember the very first time I came across that phrase, but when I did, I felt as though it spoke directly to me. I was at a crossroads in my life and feeling as if I’d somehow failed because I wasn’t where I’d thought I was supposed to be in my life. But then I had to ask myself, where that was supposed to be, and I began to focus more on my journey than where I currently was and where I thought I was trying to go. As I did that, what came into focus were the many amazing moments I’d had and continued to have, the amazing people and encounters I’d been fortunate enough to have and continued to have, and the many lessons that I’d learned along the way and would hopefully continue to learn.
One day, a large box was delivered to my home. It was from Baum-kuchen, only I hadn’t ordered anything. I couldn’t even think of anything they carried in the studio that was large enough to warrant being delivered in such a big box. When I opened it, I pulled out an amazing square pillow made of canvas, with a leather handle. On it was the words “THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION.” I cried because I was so deeply touched. I continue to feel that way whenever I look at it. It is a daily reminder of that philosophy, but it is also a daily reminder of Wakako’s presence in my life, of her role and the role of Baum-kuchen on my journey, a connection that has always been more significant than simply a shop I order my notebook refills and stickers from -- the precious thread that connects all of humanity, even between people we’ve never met face-to-face.