By Wendy Choy-Chan
Last night, I watched a documentary about an 85-year-old Japanese sushi chef, Jiro. He has worked non-stop for 75 years, from being an apprentice to running his own sushi restaurant, doing the same routine day in and day out. What keeps him going?
At the beginning, it was work or nothing. There was no other choice for him, no school or even a home to go back to. I could sense his dedication in making sushi and running his restaurant in this interview. It was like watching an artist perform on stage with the movements of his hands and the expression on his face. He takes rice, fish, wasabi and molds them into pieces of edible art. What is his secret?
It is his dreams. He explained in the documentary that he would come up with new sushi recipes in his dreams. When he woke up, he wrote them down and brought his ideas to work. In his restaurant, he would then re-create the sushi from his dream. For Jiro, his dreams are important, not only to give him new ideas for his sushi menu, but they are also a big part of what gives him energy and motivation to get up in the morning and go to work. It is an expression of his passion to make better and better sushi, to bring enjoyment to his customers, and to raise up the next generation of sushi chefs by passing his skills (and his passion) to his apprentices.
Everyday, after Jiro finishes working in his restaurant and heads home, he looks forward to getting some rest and no doubt, dreaming of creating new sushi recipes. And tomorrow, he will get up and do the same routine as he did today. And I bet, his passion will not be any less than today’s.
Sometimes, as I am going through yet another deck of flashcards for Hebrew class, I too wonder if I have the stamina to go on – Is there any more space in my brain for more Hebrew vocabulary? As I am studying for my degree parttime, sometimes it feels I have been in school forever – week after week, quarter after quarter, year after year.
And then I remember, I too have woken up from dreams, feeling elated — like a dream in which I was teaching Bible seminars, or another dream — I remember quite vividly — in which I met Abraham in the Holy Land, and I spoke with him in Greek (that was before I learned Hebrew and only knew Greek, so maybe next time, I will speak to him in Hebrew!).
Jiro’s story reminded me of my dreams — that I still wake up smiling after one of those dreams, and that I do have the energy and motivation to tackle my flashcards or my paper research, knowing that I am pursuing my passion. It is good to rest and dream a bit — whether to literally take a nap and dream, or just to pause and remind myself of the dream that God has put in my heart, to study His Word through which to get to know Him more.
Wendy Choy-Chan came to North America from Hong Kong when she was 15. She is now a full-time mom and part-time student at Fuller Northwest studying for her MA in Theology. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Seattle, WA.