Sushi, Bojack Horseman, & Meditation Collide


Focus on your breath.

Focus on your breath.

Focus on your breath.

[checks time: two more minutes to go]


I was struggling to get through my second day of the meditation month. Meditation has a host of benefits (stress reduction, better immune system, calmer mind, better concentration, etc.). This I know. And yet I was struggling to get through my second round of ten minutes of meditation.

Technically, I’m doing mindfulness meditation. It seems like the most commonly talked about method, and this style of meditation makes the most sense to try (technically, I could have treated yoga as meditation, but I’m not with it enough to get meditative benefits as much as I would through mindfulness).

So I’m 20 minutes in, and it’s a struggle.

But luckily, the universe provides. I’m a consumer of media, and I like things that make me think. One such avenue is Reddit.

Reddit truly is the best and the worst of the internet. You have subreddits and individuals purely geared toward sharing information and helping people, such as the exercise and wellness subreddits. You also have the pure troll subreddits and redditors. I try to avoid the latter, but the former come in handy, including this week.

A few days ago, someone posted asking about the benefits of doing 10 pushups sit-ups every day as a starting point. The Fitness subreddit is one of the nicer subs you’ll see, and you immediately saw the encouragement coming, including sharing a quote from Bojack Horseman:

It gets easier. Every day, it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.

This is the full video with context (perfect for the #ihaterunning blog):

The quote is easy enough to latch on. 1) It makes sense. 2) It’s true. You know it’s true. That’s what makes it great/scary.

On Wednesday, I was actually prepared to skip my planned run, but the quote popped in my head, so I put in a couple of miles in 90+ heat. And today after I struggled through my 10 minutes of meditation, the quote came right back. It gets easier, but you have to do it every day. Luckily, I have an arbitrary goal to do it every day as it is.

But I’m only looking at the short-term. What about the long-term? What about a lifetime of pursuit? What does that look like.

It looks like Jiro Dreams of Sushi:

I had been meaning to watch it, and then I saw it was going to be on a non-Netflix streaming service, meaning it would probably no longer be available on Netflix when that happened (soon; like in the next 2 weeks soon), so I decided to watch it tonight (in the middle, I realized I had seen it before. I’d just forgotten because it’s been a couple of years).

The film follows Jiro Ono, who was an 85-year-old sushi chef at the time (as far as I can tell, he’s 90 and still working). Jiro is regarded as one of, if not the, greatest sushi chefs alive. Meals at his restaurant start at 30,ooo yen (roughly 300 dollars).

Dude’s legit.

In talking about Jiro’s passion for his work, the documentary and its interviewees kept returning to the concept of shokunin. There’s not a direct translation, but it’s basically a master artisan/crafter who continues passionately pursuing excellence in their craft. It’s a religious zeal, basically.

Jiro embodies this by continuing to work when most people his age are too tired to keep living. He embodies this by working nonstop and only taking days off when he must. He embodies this by basically being an absentee father when his children were young. Jiro lives for sushi. This is his passion.

Jiro lives sushi every day.

Every day.

It gets easier. Every day, it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.

This idea of every day is something we have to keep coming back to. What makes Jiro great (and what makes any expert great) is that they return to their craft with fervor every single day they are able to.

As it would happen, The Oatmeal released a comic yesterday that gets to much of this same idea, though it delves into how it relates to our conception of happiness.

The shortened version of the comic is this: happiness isn’t binary, and people who lead satisfying lives of relentless pursuit often don’t look happy in the moment as they purse what ultimately gives them meaning.

This comic is something I mentally latched onto fairly easily because, much like his running comicThe Oatmeal basically wrote the comic version of my inner beliefs. Namely, just because I’m not happy, that doesn’t mean I’m sad/depressed/miserable. I’m just somewhere in the middle. Also, the things that give you happiness usually only help you in the short-term. The things that give you long-term satisfaction are going to cost you time, effort, and energy today, but they’re worth it.

It gets easier. Every day, it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part. But it does get easier.


P.S. I’ll see you on that transcendental plane.


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