I saw two very good documentaries recently: Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Bill Cunningham New York. Each of them features a man over 80 years old. One is Jiro Ono and the other is Bill Cunningham. Both men are very unassuming people at first sight. One rides the subway to work. The other rides a bicycle. They both have a thing for dark jackets. However, what you will eventually find out about these two men is they are both giants in their respective fields.
Jiro is a sushi master who runs his own award-winning restaurant. Bill is a fashion photographer for The New York Times. Both have dedicated their entire lives to the perfection of their craft. Neither of them seem to have any close friends. Nor are they emotionally close to their family. Their work is their family. Now I may have given you the impression that these two people are cold-hearted, relentless people who are incapable of basic social skills. That is simply not the case. I am not sure about the motivations behind them to appear on camera, but both seem to be more than willing to accommodate the curious filmmakers. They both appear to be honest in their attempt to answer questions and they are both graceful in their social conducts. I highly recommend both movies if you want to see artists who are totally passionate and completely engrossed in their work.
“I don’t work, I only know how to have fun everyday.” -Bill Cunningham
“I’ve never once hated this job. I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it. Even though I’m eighty five years old, I don’t feel like retiring. That’s how I feel.” -Jiro Ono
Other than the fact I enjoyed both movies immensely and I admire and respect both individuals portrayed, I cannot help but wonder, is this the kind of life I want to live? For Jiro and Bill, I don’t think the incentive is money, fame, nor pleasing others. The only reasonable incentive is love: the love of the work itself. I have no doubt both Bill and Jiro lived life with no regrets and given the chance to do it all over again, they would not have chosen differently. But to me, relationships with other people is something I value and cherish almost above all else. No work is more important to me than the people I let into my life. But that’s just me. For those looking for inspiration or just something interesting to watch, don’t miss out on these two beautiful films.