“This year has to be spent well: calming down, finding a new beat, figuring out how to make what we do more playful, so we can last for twenty years, or more. Like my good friend Massimo Bottura once said when I called him up, ‘Hey Massimo, how are you?’ ‘Ey René, I’m gooood,’ he said with a thick Italian accent, ‘sitting heere loooking at the chestnut trees, wondering how I can grow sslowly like them.'”
I wandered into Kinokuniya earlier this week without a clue what I was looking for. But I was looking for something—something that could save me from my lacklustre and uninspired self. Do you ever feel like you’re perpetually just around the corner of clarity, of knowing the answers to your eternal questions, of reaching an aha!, but never seem to be able to just freaking arrive? I can’t be alone in this particular circle of creative hell. But I believe in signs. I believe the universe sends you the right things and people at precisely the right moment—which is, the moment when you are ready. Despite the internal chaos, I kept my mind calm and open. Whatever comes, let it come.
René Redzepi’s book was the first title that came to me. It’s an unlikely choice. As much as I love food, I have never been very curious or passionate about the making of part of it. But this chef—the brain and heart behind Noma—had me at “work in progress”. Three super important words in my life. Had me again at “Journal”. Hello, my sanity depends on journalling. Flipped to the first page, and the single-word title sealed the deal: Unafraid.
I haven’t been able to put the book down since, lapping up word after word, entry after entry he dishes out. How often do you get invited to take a walk inside the private garden that is the mind of someone so brilliant? And in this case, also so deliciously honest—rare for someone as famous and successful as he is. If René freaking Redzepi feels the same things I’m feeling, have the same creative dilemmas and shitty days I’m having, hey, there’s hope for me. For you. For all of us.
Crisis averted. Inspiration and optimism restored. For now. I should take a leaf out of Bottura’s book, too—look for a chestnut tree.
photography KARMAN TSE