I have been in the film business for most of my life, but I am every bit as unsure of myself, my craft and my relevance as an artist in my age as I was in my youth. On the set, I always have the urge to ask for another take after the director calls “Cut!” So seldom is my performance as good as I imagined it could be. That disappointment, that self-doubt used to torture me. Now that I am older, I don’t take myself as seriously. The anxiety of not fulfilling my potential has subsided, and in it’s place is the resignation that there has probably never been that potential. Yet there are times I still wake up in the morning feeling overwhelmed by the desire to be better than that disappointing person I was yesterday.
It was very comforting and affirming for me to find the following conversation between Agnes de Mille and Martha Graham in Agnes de Mille’s 1991 biography Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham.
Agnes: “When I see my work I take for granted what other people value in it. I see only its ineptitude, inorganic flaws, and crudities. I am not pleased or satisfied.”
Martha: “No artist is pleased.”
Agnes: “But then there is no satisfaction?”
Martha: “No satisfaction whatever at any time,” she cried out passionately. “There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
Martha Graham put it so eloquently and poignantly what I instinctively sensed: the same perennial doubts that haunt me are exactly what have been driving me. No wonder I am still here filming Marco Polo. When I no longer have doubts, when I am satisfied is when I will stop doing it all together.
Having pigged out for the whole day yesterday, I decided to make myself a healthy vegetarian soba salad. I apologize for not having precise measurement for my ingredients in the recipe. I have a limited kitchen in my service apartment, but it was soothing and meditative for me to slowly prepare a meal, taste as I go, focus my complete attention on such simple and pleasurable details as julliening carrots and frying chili peppers.
Ingredients for Noodle:
2 carrots, jullienned
1/2 cabbage, very thinly sliced
2 eggs, beaten
crushed peanuts and scallion for garnish
Ingredients for the oil:
4 stocks scallion
2 tablespoon peeled & minced ginger
2 chili peppers, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Chinese peppercorn or Japanese peppercorn
Ingredients for the sauce:
fish sauce (optional)
Cook noodle according to package direction.
Make the oil by frying the Chinese peppercorn until aromatic and brown. Keep the oil and discard the peppercorn. Add ginger, scallion, chili pepper, garlic in the oil and fry until slightly browned. Set aside.
Prepare the sauce by mixing the all sauce ingredients.
Prepare cabbage and carrots.
Make a thin, flat omelette in a pan with a little of the ginger scallion oil and slice the egg into thin strips.