It’ll be almost a year in September since I’ve started this blog and I have yet to really explain its title. And more importantly, what a Rōnin is. Let’s take the time to do that now.
In the most basic kanji reading, the Japanese word, 浪人／ろうにん/rōnin, means “wave person” (as in ocean wave). The meaning of the term has changed across the eras of Japanese history. Throughout these times though, the term has retained the general idea of a waving/wandering person. Someone who doesn’t have a particular direction to go, or a future life path set in stone. The word came in more widespread use during the Edo era to describe samurai’s without masters. Remember Jin from Samurai Champloo? Yeah, he was a rōnin. A wanderer just looking for his own path in Life.
Although in present-day media rōnin are often romanticized as honorable, legendary men who go against societal constructs, the life of a rōnin wasn’t so glamorous. They were often the outcasts of society since they decided not to go through with ritual suicide soon after their master was murdered/died. They were rarely ever re-hired to serve another master. Which left them as this highly skilled warrior with nowhere to exercise the skills they spent a lifetime learning. Sounds depressing right?
In modern use the term has taken on a more casual meaning to describe graduated high school students not yet accepted to a college, or salarymen in between jobs. I am neither a high schooler, nor an unemployed salaryman. And of course I won’t be a samurai in this life. But I do consider myself a rōnin in the wandering sense.
The oft-romanticized rōnin, like Sakamoto Ryōma of the Edo period, were rōnin who took it upon themselves to make their own path in Life. They stared society in the face and defiantly said, “No!” They refused to be placed in the box carved out for them. When I think of myself as a rōnin, I don’t see myself as the purposeless, depressed man with no direction in Life. I see myself as the one who sees life as a series of choices, which don’t depend on a master or any other superior authority. Life is something we Create, not something we let happen to us.
So these are the tales of the life I have created.