The “sushi” we are aware of are the general food items we select at a Japanese restaurant. Name your seafood and exactly how it’s presented, depending on your personal preference, and that’s sushi, colloquially. The sides are simply that, sides, regardless as to how sumptuous they may be (Goma Wakame and Chuka Ika Sansai, for example).
Sushi does not have to be raw. Frequently, cooked ingredients are provided, as well as items not provided in the style they may be pictured in menus, books, as well as other media. Contemporary sushi is sashimi (raw sea food without rice), nigiri sushi (“finger sushi”, fish on a bed of rice), maki sushi (“cut rolls” which are rolls sliced into pieces, generally six or eight), and many other items.
When people think about “sushi” today, the word conjures images of the myriad of things offered by Japanese restaurants, but the important concept to take away from the dish is that as delicious as it is, there is the fast food type of cuisine, as well as the artful, extraordinary kind of sushi you may come across in good quality restaurants (or that you may create at home). Traditionally, sushi is as much about creativeness, design, presentation, and balance as it is about feeding oneself.
Sushi is an experience. Even though one can be equally pleased eating a salmon roll obtained from a nearby market, the real art form of sushi can best be appreciated when a seasoned master provides something stunning on an expensive evening out, or if you yourself are the master, creating sushi your way, with the foods you decide. It is also enjoying the company of others while your work of art (and each piece you make can be) awaits your dining pleasure. Sushi is not just seafood and rice; sushi is enjoying of the bounty of the ocean, and sharing with others.