Shiizakana: Make Your Own Creative Choice

blog creativity practices respond to god Sep 29, 2021

One of my favorite series on Netflix is Chef’s Table. I (Gem) have never before experienced a docuseries quite like this. Each episode tells the story of a single chef. The cinematography is exceptionally beautiful, the storytelling is compelling, and the food is unique and gorgeous. Using slow motion and lighting effects, the creators transport me to another world, where I love getting lost in the mood and the story.


After stopping off in dreamland and wishing I was a world-renowned chef (although I don’t really want to do all the hard work it takes to get there), I realize what’s really happening: I am being inspired to be who I am and to share what I have with creativity and passion.


Each chef is as unique as the food they serve, and they have found ways to express themselves that are true to their gifts and vision. As with most great stories, the hero does not receive rave reviews at the beginning. They learn and grow and fail their way through their careers. They experience setbacks and heartbreaks. But they don’t give up. They make their way to the top of their game and now enjoy the fruits of that labor.


Again, I am always inspired by each chef’s uniqueness. Some are quirky, some are intense, some are eccentric, some are peaceful, and all are gifted in expressing their culinary vision in their own way.


One episode of Chef’s Table highlighted Chef Niki Nakayama from Los Angeles. She creates a modern twist on the Japanese tradition of kaiseki. Within this very precise mode of presenting a multi-course meal, she often serves one dish that is completely non-traditional. There is a term for this: shiizakana, which translates to “not bound by tradition, chef’s choice.”


In our own lives some traditions are helpful and some are merely ruts. If you are stuck in a rut, it is good to remember that, at times, you can color outside the lines, try out a new path, and find ways to express your truest, most creative self.


How are you struck by this idea of being who you are and sharing from that? In our Unhurried Living paradigm, it really does begin on the inside and at God’s initiative.


Here is some food for thought: 

  • How are you being inspired to be all of who you are? By that I mean, how are you continuing to respond to God’s initiative to form you over time (Philippians 1:6)?
  • Are you stuck in any ruts? Are you engaged in unhelpful practices into which you could interject some shiizakana?
  • If you are in a learn-grow-fail process, how are you being inspired to keep going?
  • Like Chef Nakayama, how might you take some habit or convention and inject your own innovation into it?

Photo by Peter Dawn on Unsplash