13 Jun The World Needs Art And You To Make It In Whatever Way You Please
AS IF BY fate I happen to live a ten-minute walk from Gogenya, dare I say the best bowl of ramen I’ve had in Japan.
I’ve had my fair share of ramen in this culinarily inclined nation — bowls spanning cities and regional styles, character and decadence.
Okay, maybe I’m biased, but my local Osaka bowl is seriously world class.
The broth is complex and rich, yet doesn’t leave you waddling out of the shop in a tonkotsu-based stupor like ramen often does.
It’s a delicate dance between extraordinary flavor and subtle zest, a joust between the handmade noodles and thinly sliced pork, one which leaves you applauding in the stands, pining for an encore.
But it’s not just the bowl I return for! Oh, no. It’s the man behind the flavorful ensemble and the women running the store who make it my favorite.
I’ve taken a myriad of friends to Gogenya, and when we finish, the chef always pops out from behind the kitchen wall, laughing jovially while I stumble along in Japanese, trying to explain how I want to name my firstborn after him.
Simply put, the man is an artist.
Japan is a country renowned for its quality, for no job is too menial to be done well.
I love this cultural facet, as I believe there’s meaning to all that we do if we take that idea seriously.
We are all artists, and Japan may serve as a colorful illustration that the most unpretentious of acts can elevate to the level of sheer artistry.
Sushi serves as an iconic example of the modest turned sublime. Ramen, coffee and tea, dance, music, flower arranging, photography, painting, calligraphy and poetry follow suit.
Yet, it’s the way my neighbor cherishes her flowers; the care of the man who sweeps the street in front of his store; the sincerity of the train conductor, which, too, constitute art.
Art can be anything we want it to be: an emotion, a memory, a feeling given life — anything which helps us grasp what we’re really doing here in a deeper way.
Art can be painful; it’s often lethargic.
In one’s communication with the self dwells an unparalleled chasm of beauty, although not in the traditional sense.
If we bring that into the world, what we share may take a day, a year or a century to resonate; yet what we feel seldom bides in isolation. What we fearlessly create, or do, or say as an act of vulnerability entwines us.
That is beauty, irrespective of if it’s veiled in shadow on the surface.
That, is art.
Beauty may be shocking, ancient, modern and sleek; I think about the ancient cities of Europe and those of Japan, how unbelievably stunning they are.
Walking through them makes you wonder how there could ever be war, or greed, or destruction.
I think about the modern cities of the world, Tokyo and Hong Kong and New York City being among my favorites.
Their dazzling array of lights and jaw-dropping compositions make you question what is truly possible, and why, how, this world had been created.
Where, from that initial seed of cosmic creation, may we go?
What’s grand commandeers our breath; yet, a bowl of ramen can be equally profound, or, say, tamago kake gohan: a mound of pearly white rice with a vivid orange egg resting on top — a Japanese dish which will always hold a special place in my heart.
Art not only makes life worth living; art makes life bearable.
During my more challenging bouts dealing with pain in my body, I turn to the blank page. I have to.
I need a place to go that’s removed from the physical, for art shatters our perception of reality. Writing puts my body at ease.
This week, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve wanted to cry. I nearly did as I watched the sunset from Osaka Station cast countless people in its purple glow.
I was hurting for a reason I can’t explain. Yet, I became part of something greater — a stream of consciousness, people, color and light.
The music in my ears drew the tears from my soul.
This week, I laughed a lot too. I laughed amongst new friends and chatted about seemingly trivial things.
What seems trivial is anything but. A chat about anime, gym routines, the rainy season, books.
We’re all saying the same things, trying to know who are you? What’s under there? And that’s love in disguise, passing between us.
Sometimes I want to run from myself, yet I can’t, for I’m the only one to help. So I just keep going.
We must, no matter how many times we fall.
Art is where we go.
I recently came across a quote from the emotive entrepreneur, Gary Vaynerchuk, which I’ve been thinking about a lot. He says:
This applies to people under 40. You're not lost or confused, you haven't even started. Take a deep breath and remember that happiness is what you're chasing… not fundraising, not money, not awards or accolades. In fact, what most of you are doing is allowing your insecurities to dictate your angst because you're so passionate to 'show' your parents or friends that you're successful. Want to prove something? Prove that you are enjoying the process of figuring yourself out and chasing your current ambitions and curiosities.
We all have much to figure out about ourselves, about life, even those who seem to have it all.
We’re all dealing with something, and what is art?
A reflection of our mystery, done in a way that connects us to the river of the universal which flows beneath the crest of our existence.
Despite our backgrounds, cultures and languages, we’re connected by something we can’t possibly understand.
We show up.
We’re here, with the opportunity to turn whatever we’re doing, whatever we’re interested in, whatever pain we feel, into our art.
Our art, our work, our day-to-day interactions which could mean nothing more than saying hello to a neighbor, may connote that we don’t have our shit figured out.
That should inspire us.
We may see our uncertainty as a setback, or we may see it as an opportunity to take a chance and live. Follow your ambitions, your inclinations, your curiosities. See where they lead.
Look up at the sky and marvel at how none of this makes perfect sense. That’s okay. That’s a gift.
The world needs art and you to make it in whatever way you please.