Searching For Success, Finding It, Staying Grounded (The Bear)

I’m saving a piece of beautiful writing here (and acting, you should watch The Bear, but in case you don’t, I think you’ll want to read this – no spoilers). 

We’re dropping in on a conversation for this scene. It’s part of training sequence, like the one in every Kung Fu movie, where the master is not just helping reveal the way to the apprentice, but also revealing something about their own journey to cement the point. The proverbial door to “you can be a peer” is cracked open in the corner as we gradually zoom out. 

This scene is about personal compulsion. Where you have to do something to prove yourself to yourself. The problem is you don’t know exactly what. At first. But then, as you just start – you begin to figure it out. Not the answer, but how not to stop. How not to give up. This time. 

You figure out who you are in that moment. It’s about presence. And it’s also about finality. Because being present is somehow accepting a moment can’t last forever, so you have to be here right now. A new moment to be present in will be upon us soon, and it won’t be the last one ever again. Just like the ones that came before. 

Accept the unfolding. With grace. 

Change happens over time. We can change in the place we’re at. We can change the place we’re at. We can change the people, and the people can change us. Accept no exceptions. 

This is a bigger block of text, but I couldn’t shave it down. This show is just this good. Bravo Bear. 

(My emphasis added)

Marcus: 225 grams, Chef? 

Luca: Correct. So how long you been a cook? 

Marcus: About a year and a half. You? 

Luca: Uh, 14 years now. Oh, so you started when you was three? ( chuckles ) 

Marcus: Uh… Close enough, yeah. Marcus: Where’d you grow up? 

Luca: Uh, London. You’re from Chicago? 

Marcus: Yeah. Chicago. Did you go to school for this? 

Luca: I didn’t. No. Uh, I didn’t do too well in school. Got in quite a bit of trouble. Ditched the check. They caught me. Made me wash dishes, and, uh, I loved it. What about you? 

Marcus: Needed a job. Well, there’s a lot of other jobs. I worked at the phone company for, like, five years. And then McDonald’s. 

Luca: Out of high school? 

Marcus: I played division three football in college. 

Luca: Oh, s***. What position were you? 

Marcus: Outside linebacker. 

Luca: Okay. What does the outside linebacker do? 

Marcus: Cover the end and protect the pass. 

Luca: And you loved it? 

Marcus: Yeah. I loved it. And it paid for school, but nowhere really to go after. And four years ago, my mom got sick, so I was trying to find a better job. And I always used to get lunch at this beef spot, and the owner was… He was really tight, but also really out of his f***in’ mind. And he wanted to open a bakery, so I stopped making Big Macs and I learned how to make bread and, yeah. 

Luca: How’s your mom doing? 

Marcus: Well, they say the expectancy was only a couple of years and that was four years ago, so… I just… I just try to spend as much time with her as I can. 

Luca: You’re an only child? 

Marcus: No. A younger brother. You? 

Luca: Uh, yeah. I got a younger sister somewhere, yeah. 

Marcus: How’d you get good at this? ( exhales ) 

Luca: Honestly, I made a lot of mistakes. ( scoffs ) 

Marcus: That’s the secret, just f*** up? 

Luca: It might be, you know, f*** up. I think ’cause I started early, I got my skill set up really quick and then started to feel like I was really the best, you know, like at all these really good places. I really was the best cook. And then I started at this really great place as a commis. And this other chef started the same day as me, and… ( sighs ) I thought we were competition, um, but really we weren’t. He was better than me. Much, much better than me. He worked harder and faster than I ever could. And it was the first time I realized that I wasn’t the best and I was never gonna be the best. So I started looking at it like it was a good thing. Like, at least I knew who the best was now, and I could take that pressure off myself. And the only logical thing to do was to try and keep up with him. So I never left this guy’s side. 

Marcus: And you got better. 

Luca: Oh, mate, I got better than I ever thought I possibly could be just from trying to keep up with him. 

Marcus: You’re like Pippen. 

Luca: Who’s Pippen? 

Marcus: Scottie Pippen. He was like that with Michael Jordan. 

Luca: Who’s Michael Jordan? 

Marcus: f***er. I know, I know you know who Michael Jordan is. 

Luca: Yeah, no, we’ve heard of him in London, yeah. Yeah, I guess, uh, I was like Scottie. 

Marcus: But he was a Hall of Famer, though. Number 33. 

Luca: Honored. No, I think at a certain stage it becomes less about skill and it’s more about being open. 

Marcus: Open? 

Luca: Yeah. To-to the world, to yourself, to other people. You know, most of the incredible things that I’ve eaten haven’t been because the skill level is exceptionally high or there’s loads of mad fancy techniques. It’s because it’s been really inspired, you know. I like that. You can spend all the time in the world in here, but if you don’t spend enough time out there… 

Marcus: Right. 

Luca: You know? It helps to have good people around you, too. 

Marcus: So was it worth it, the time you put in? ( sighs ) 

Luca: Don’t know. Ask me tomorrow.

h/t to The Bear, Season 2, Episode 4, “Honeydew”