I had a conversation today with my friend, the remarkable chef Mark Noguchi, about ambition, talent, and choosing the place where you are. Our conversation was part text, part cell phone - frenetic and staccato, like most conversations in these days.
Mark is a passionate soul in the very best sense, he is all about sustainable food, local communities, native culture, restoring the 'aina and the people.
It started with Mark calling me to see if he could get a hold of 6 pounds of beef fat to render for next month's Kanu Hawaiii Eat Local Challenge. That's a real good, grounded place to start a conversation: availability of beef fat.
Then I opened my email and saw the Food Network had a casting call for chef talent. I thought of Mark with his big personality and unquestionable charisma. He would just kill it: imagine the Mark Noguchi TV show, cookbooks, signature restaurants, merchandise empire. I texted him asking if he was going to try out. He said that he was too busy and happy doing his thing in the 808.
Which I get, totally, completely. There's all that stuff and then there is what you love to do, madly, completely, all in. And sometimes ambition is just a temptation to sell your soul right down the river.
Choosing the place or places that you give your life to defines who you are. To choose a place or be chosen by a place and to give yourself entirely to that choice is a powerful act of love and creativity. You become bigger than yourself in that moment. You become part of a living place. There is no end and no beginning, as Su Dongpo said.