Epiphanies. I’ve been having far too many of them. So much so that every time I now see a sign of some sort, or find myself trapped in a moment of blinding clarity that makes me wonder where the elusive truth has been hiding all along, I begin to pinch myself to check if its for real. Epiphanies. Happy coincidences that make you wonder if someone is slyly orchestrating them just for you.
How else do you explain weeks of craving time out to sit and read about writing and not knowing where to begin, only to chance upon this super list, just 3 days before my big break began? And then I had colleagues voluntarily came up to me with three books from that list, handing them to me as they wished me luck on my time off?
And what do you make of being asked by a friendly-face-turned-friend in a cafe I frequent and have grown to love, if I would like to help her manage the place? When she had no real idea that I might actually be interested, or that I was going to embark on a big break? Or that I was even thinking about getting restaurant experience?
How do you explain a bolt out of the blue in the from of a film maker, who creeps out from the wood-works, explaining she is a regular on my blog, and wants to chat about my life? And then the conversation flows like we have known each other forever. She tells me all about her life, and it sounds like someone reading out a few pages form my own life. The section between age 18 to 28, especially. And for the first time I feel like someone actually understood what the last few months leading up to this break have been about. Like some twisted sense of reaffirmation.
But sometimes epiphanies are not such big turns of events. Sometimes they are small, quick and pass you by in a flash, catching you by surprise, like a shard of mirror moving through a beam of light. Shining a glinting reflection right in your face, and making you stop in your tracks. A quick check to let you know the universe agrees.
Epiphanies. They’re a recurring theme and a rather large preoccupation in my life. Remember this one? And how it somehow catapulted in to this one? Well somewhere around that time, in a conversation that would change the course of my life (sooner than I knew), a wise old man had once said that one doesn’t need to be an extraordinary person in order to do extraordinary things. And something about those words, that day, have stayed with me forever. Repeating themselves in various instances, slowly giving me the courage to dream bigger than I usually do. Egging me on to take small steps on the big road.
When Anand visited a few weeks ago, for out big weekend of baking, we picked out this documentary to watch, and it was like hearing those words again. In the form of 122 beautiful minutes.
And this has by far been the biggest epiphany of recent times. Jiro Dreams of Sushi, is a long, but amazing documentary about 80 year old Jiro, who has made perfection of the art of sushi the mission of his life. It was like a crystallization of the idea that finding a passion and staying tremendously interested in it can often lead to nothing short of superlative success. But it’s not in an easy, take-off-on-a-lark and make pots of money sort of way, but a more have tremendous reverence and love what you do kind of way.
For someone who has had a vast exposure into learning Indian fine arts, I was especially struck by the similarities in approach and teaching that go into his mastering the art. Years of tedious practice, almost like daily riyaaz of making Sushi have gone into elevating plain old Sushi to Michelin star material. And now, nothing lesser will do.
While it is a film about him, his life and what he has done to the art of sushi, it’s nothing less than a story about an ordinary life committed to doing extraordinary things. A true inspiration and a humbling story, Jiro’s life is immersed in the pure, untainted pursuit of building skills and perfecting them, without going after success, money, fame or accolades. What I found really inspiring was his almost-innocent marriage to this mission, that his life itself is a life of making sushi. So single-minded is approach, that he knows nothing else, and in his little sushi world, he finds himself at peace, content and always satisfied.
As is the case with most great films, this one too leaves you with multiple take-aways. All valid. It could be a story about him and his life. But it is also a story about the rise of an award winning sushi-bar in a stuffy Tokyo subway station. But above all of that, I felt sushi was but a metaphor for the pursuit of achieving nothing short of the highest level of mastery over something as mundane as sushi. Of living a disciplined life committed to a passion. Of how tedium and rigour can never be escaped when chasing an extraordinary dream. Of how there are no shortcuts.
The immense truth in the movie, some of the words he utters and many of the examples cited, hit me like a ton of bricks. It also helped that it is one of the most gorgeous food documentaries I have watched in recent time. Brilliantly filmed, I re-watched it 2 days ago, and thought now would be a fitting time to share it with those of you who are interested. Because now you can watch it here: http://www.1channel.ch/watch-2734282-Jiro-Dreams-of-Sushi if you’re able to get a fast, uninterrupted net connection.
This is for all my fellow foodies. For all those I know are teetering on the edge of doing something, but life is giving you cold feet. For all those who just need a good dose of simple inspiration. But most of all, it is for all of us ordinary people, with our extraordinary dreams. This might just be the epiphany you need.