The viewing choice the other night was between “Berkeley Square” and “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”
“I guess it’s ‘Berkeley Square,’ ” I said to Mary, “because you don’t like sushi.”
“Penny [Wright, her boss at Rogers Memorial Library] says you don’t have to like sushi to like it,” she said.
“The sushi one then.”
I’m glad I chose “Jiro” because it’s about a man who does one thing well, so well in fact (he’s considered by many to be the best sushi chef in the world) that at 85 he’s still working every day and still trying to improve.
Afterward, I told Mary to tell Penny, who oversees R.M.L.’s ambitious adult programs, that he reminded me of her. Mary said he reminded her of me, though I’m no Jiro. There were affecting things he said, though; that you must find work you love, work that absorbs and nourishes you unendingly.
That kind of thinking had me thinking of Unamuno, the Basque philosopher who in his “Tragic Sense of Life” spoke of his soul forever ascending. Jiro and Unamuno . . . an interesting pairing, I thought, to borrow as foody phrase.
Churchill told us never to give up, and Aristotle told us to practice the qualities we admired, but Jiro and his two sons go even further: Never give up, yes, but go beyond, go beyond.
It was all, for me, very heady wasabi.
Jiro gets itchy when he’s idled by holidays, like a fish out of water. I know that feeling too.
And, as I think they said a couple of times in the documentary, it’s not about the money.
Nor is it about living up to anyone’s expectations but your own.