Enlightenment by Wasabi (a Christmas Story)




 It is easy for me to get caught up in what I do and take on a bit of arrogance. I am quite flexible and have never strained a muscle as I pat myself on the back. Fortunately the universe has a way of keeping me in check. One example is what I have labeled Enlightenment by Wasabi. It took place during a company holiday dinner at a Japanese grill restaurant where my boss was treating us.

Of the fifteen or so people only two of us were eating with chopsticks, the boss and me. That was the first fact that straightened my back and raised my shoulders a couple of notches. Someone had ordered sushi as an appetizer. I had not had sushi before, but convinced myself that millions of people ate it every day. I was surrounded by people making comments like, “I am not eating bait.” I managed to get the rolls up and to my mouth on the chopsticks, which was the second pump to my pride. Towards the end of the meal there was a sushi roll and some glob of green stuff on the plate beside it. They had been called California Rolls. Making a hamburger or anything else into a California version normally requires adding a slice of avocado. My mind concluded that the green stuff was likely mashed potatoes with avocado. The stroke of arrogance that brought me to full height was getting the entire glop on my chopsticks at one time. Before it passed the distance from my teeth to my throat I understood how wrong my calculation had been.

I was having my first taste of wasabi. It went down fine, but when it hit my stomach the burn took off. It started like a bottle rocket and by the time it reached my nose it was an ICBM blowing off the top of my head. For some unmeasured period of time I existed in another reality populated by flashing lights and a burning sensation along the path from stomach to nasal passages. My memory of the details is not clear, but I may have seen God. As I returned to the world of mutually agreed consciousness, I had a vivid reminder about the detriments to which pride can expose us.