The Uncertainty of Noodles

When humble noodle-maker Po becomes the surprise-elected savior of the village, aka “Dragon Warrior,” his first day learning kung fu doesn’t exactly go well. Po fails every single exercise, prompting Master Shifu to claim that, where there wasn’t before, there’s now “a level zero.” Worse, all the other fighters mock him behind his back, and he overhears every word.

As Po stress-eats peaches on a lonely cliff that night, Master Oogway pays him a visit. When he asks him why he’s upset, Po blurts out: “How’s Shifu ever gonna turn me into the Dragon Warrior? Maybe I should just quit and go back to making noodles.”

“Quit, don’t quit. Noodles, don’t noodles. You are too concerned with what was and what will be,” the master says. “There’s a saying: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

Overthinking comes in many flavors. We may regret the past, worry about the future, or endlessly brainstorm about an immediate challenge — none of which lead anywhere. But if we’re simply sitting down on our path, we might as well take a proper break, not fritter it away with fretting.

Whether we relax and breathe or take our next step, being present means accepting the uncertainty of noodles. You don’t know when you’ll have your next portion. You can’t say whether you should make them for a living. You’re not even sure which kind you prefer! All of that is okay — because none of it matters all that much. The important part is walking the road that’s in front of you, and refueling whenever you need rest.

Sometimes, when I debate with myself in my head, I suddenly hear Oogway’s voice: “Noodles, don’t noodles.” It always makes me chuckle. “Alright, yeah, that train of thought is going nowhere. I can just let it go.”

The twist, of course, is that everything in life can be noodles. As with actual pasta, we each prefer different kinds, flavors, shapes, sauces, and sizes at different times — but they’re still noodles. On some days we’ll have some, on other days we won’t.

Whatever fruit you’re holding in your hand right now, remember: Today is a gift, and it’s the only gift you can truly redeem. Everything else is just noodles — and if you choose to enjoy it, a peach will be just as delicious.