My husband and I recently watched a patient Japanese movie called Sweet Bean directed by Naomi Kawase. It follows the story of Sentaro who, in a small unassuming shop, cooks a snack called dorayaki, a sweet-bean-filled pancake sandwich. He meets a bubbly elder, Tokue, who has mastered the art of making sweet bean paste. Tokue’s charms win the heart of the solitary Sentaro and she immediately improves his dorayaki with her well loved beans. The film is a meditation on friendship, food, and the unraveling of secrets. Lovely movie.
While the intimate characters and beautifully filmed food touched my heart and stomach, I was also impressed with the concept of a single-product, one-person shop. Sentaro made dorayaki, that is all he made—he poured batter and expertly flipped beautiful cakes. As a nation we thrive on offering as much as possible. Such simplicity might be seen as “a little po'”.
In a culture that celebrates multi-tasking, this kind of simplicity is often viewed as an abyss of dullness and perhaps it is…but how often do we say with a tone of embarrassment, “I can only play guitar,” or “I only know how to make (fill in the blank)” with the expectation that the listener will respond, “Is that all?” What a radical idea to know that that is enough.
The world has expanded its complexity by pi and much needs to be done and thought to prevent the downward spiral that is trying to assert itself as our new reality. Moments of simplicity may be the good medicine stones to throw into the pool of life, and allow the ripples to reshape and reorder the coming year.
P. S You may notice on the calendar, there is a non musical event! I will be one of the readers at Town Hall Seattle Stories of the New Yorker Feb 12th. I will be reading a story by Jamaica Kincaid called Poor Visitor. I’m quite tickled.