If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I hate movies. Don't ask me why but I despise the entire concept. Maybe it's because I can't stand sitting in front of the TV for 2 hours doing nothing. But then why can I watch PVR'd episodes of General Hospital and No Reservations and Jimmy Fallon until the cows come home? Interesting combination of shows, I'm well aware.
Maybe it's because they are pointless. Problem is I can't back up that argument either. Because here's my little secret, there is in fact 1 movie that I do enjoy very much. I've probably seen it close to 10 times. Self, why are you admitting this? Well I've made it this far, I guess I have to continue.
And do you know what this particular movie is? Napoleon Dynamite. That's right, with the fro and the moon boots and the "Vote for Pedro" t-shirt. He's a champ, what can I say? From the tater tots to the ligers to the chapstick, it's probably the best movie of all time. Coming from the girl who hates movies. Yet my favorite one just so happens to be the most stupid, dumb, completely and utterly pointless cinematic creation on the list.
Until I watched "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" that is. Although it may not ever achieve Napoleon status, it's pretty frickin' awesome, geeze! Plus it's a documentary, so there's actually some educational value thrown in there (Jiro that is, not Napoleon, not by a long shot).
Here's a brief synopsis for you:
- It's about a master sushi chef, Jiro, who is 85 years old, has been making sushi for the past 75 years and will most likely die before he even considers retirement.
- His restaurant in Tokyo has 10 seats, no bathroom in the place itself and 3 Michelin Stars.
- For 30000 yen, about $370 Canadian, you can have the privilege of eating there. You sit at the bar, he gives you 20 pieces of sushi, each one put on your plate sequentially -oh and don't think you will pop in for lunch tomorrow. Reservations must be made at least one month in advance.
- He has 2 sons, the younger one opened up a similar restaurant, same concept only 2 Michelin Stars (as customers say it's "the same food in a more relaxed atmosphere"). In Japan it is tradition for the eldest to succeed his father so Jiro's other son is over 50 years old, basically waiting for his dad to die so he can take over. Morbid, I know, but that's the way it is.
- So basically the documentary details his life, his restaurant and everything about the legend that is Jiro Ono. Not to mention the pressure put on his son to live up to his father.
Obviously the food aspect of the film was amazing. They are making daily trips to the market to get the freshest tuna, eel, shrimp, you name it, that money can buy. Seriously this guy has been making sushi longer than many people are even alive so it's pretty astounding.
The thing that got me the most was his general outlook on life. Here in North America, we are surrounded by choices. It is estimated that my generation will undergo between 6-10 career changes in the average lifetime. Want to be a doctor? Go be a doctor. Change your mind and want to be a lawyer instead? Go be a lawyer. Jiro however kiboshed this entire idea. His view is that you choose a career and you dedicate your entire existence to it. Even if it's not your favorite thing, you force yourself to fall in love with it. You immerse yourself in every aspect of your job in order to become the best. As time goes on, you continue to learn and grow and eventually become the ultimate master. Even then there will always be room for improvement. Jiro is 85 years old and still trying to better himself and his restaurant. I find that pretty admirable. Words like "dedication", "persistence", "passion" - they don't even begin to describe it. Maybe it's a cultural thing; actually it is a cultural thing, that as North Americans, we can only try to understand, but that level of honor and pride just doesn't exist here. Given Jiro is an extreme, but still, it's rare.
It's hard to comprehend though because despite the admirable qualities, I can't really decide whether I support or reject them. Probably a little bit of both actually. Can you really "force" yourself to love something that you despise? If you don't like something, why bother doing it? Yet at the same time, the effort that Jiro has put forth is a lesson to all of us that you have to work hard for success. He deserves to be where he is today. Jiro has gotten out of his career exactly what he put in it. Regardless of your interest in food, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" definitely contains some unexpected, fundamental teachings about the world surrounding us and the role we play within it.
Subconsciously maybe the film was a catalyst to the little photography spree I decided to go on today. Despite the rainy, miserableness of the day, I still wanted to capture the beauty around me, nature in its harsh, raw glory. Maybe that's the whole message I'm trying to get across - take nothing for granted. Every waking moment of your life comes a new situation to make the most of. Every experience is a learning experience, as long as you view it as such. There is no such thing as wasted time, unless you tell yourself that. Life is what you make it so make it what you want. Carpe Diem. Seize the day, everyday.