Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical post, intended to spark thinking and examining.

@johngreen, in a interview at the WEF, recently talked about the novel Love Story by Erich Segal:

“… that was the famous line from that book, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” which is the most ludicrous definition of love – I mean my experience is that love means constantly having to say that you’re sorry. ”

It got me thinking.

In a relationship, we do have the opportunity to create a space for another and their actions. We can give room to their foibles and give up using it against them.

To give space is a creative and loving act. In that way, the saying does indeed hold some weight.

However,

I’d say there is something much greater in the realm of saying sorry where I totally concur with John.

The act of apologizing is, I would say, the very definition of being loving* towards someone.

It is a natural and integral part of having and displaying empathy and connection.

By its very nature, it indicates that I, as an individual and a human being, care about and are interested in (an)other human being(s). It displays that I am interested in the impact of my actions.

We are not always our best selves.

Sometimes our actions, or inactions, cause hurt, issues, complications, pain, extra work, stress, upset, frustration, insult, nastiness, injury, ruin, and more.

If that is not who we intended to be, if that is not who we want to be, we have to be present to and own that we did, indeed, cause that.

To reclaim ourselves, we can apologize.

Apologies don’t only rebuild trust. They are the very building blocks of trust in the first place.

They demonstrate a commitment to the relationship and to the well-being of others.

The more I, and you, love someone, therefore, the more I, and you, would apologize.

And we would apologize fully.

Apologies include more than just saying “I’m sorry,” or “I apologize,” though that is a very important way to start.

Apologies include being with the other person or people and getting, understanding, recognizing, and acknowledging the impact that the (in)action(s) had on the other person or people.

Apologies include taking ownership and responsibility for the (in)action(s).

Apologies include being willing to be responsible and take on any fallout from the (in)action(s), and to be willing to do the work to clean up the mess.

Apologies include, afterwards, taking steps to avoid it occurring again in the future.

That’s it.

It doesn’t have to be long or fancy. It needs to be complete and authentic.

An apology is a humble act.

It requires us to be open, vulnerable, and filled with empathy. It comes from generosity.

Apologies make no demands. Apologies are not designed to force something to happen. Apologies cannot be delivered with a hidden “in order to”. Apologies are more than just explanations or justifications. Apologies cannot foist the ramifications and the cleanup onto others to deal with.

Apologies are all me.

There is no threshold for “too small a thing” for an apology.

Even when, as said above, we may be lovingly granted space for certain actions, to acknowledge and own our actions is the path both to maintaining that loving space and towards developing mindfulness and to interrupting the cycle.

Taking the initiative in an apology is part of the apology.

It may not be comfortable. In my experience, they rarely are.

But if our commitment is to love and being loving and being connected and relatedness, then apologizing is what there is to do.

Perhaps, to expand that famous line:

“Love also means never avoiding to say that you’re sorry.”

 

* Not just romantically here, but the love and kinship we feel for friends, family, acquaintances, members of our community…. all the way to all members of our community called humanity.

Architecture Monday

An absolutely delightful little cabin in Norway by Snøhetta!

So much to like here. A Living roof. Local materials. Blends into and is one with the landscape rather than perched like a prow atop it. Simplicity executed elegantly to create a gentle and wonderful living space that frames a great vista. Hardy and rugged through design, not brute force.

From afar, it all but disappears into the landscape. Close up, it invites. Inside, it, and you, radiate(s).

Great work, I love it.

Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement. It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

What do we truly want in life?

That is, what, as human beings, are the things that we all, in common, over and above all else, at our core want and aim for in life?

There are probably a million answers people could give.

To be something universal, these things would have to be very broad based in their reach.

There would probably only be a handful of them.

And the specifics would be as varied as the as the variety of people and personalities that are out there. How people would achieve them would be equally varied.

Grouping things, as always, is fraught with pitfalls.

Listing things can also imply an order, or hierarchy.

Without regard to order, or attempting to limit, my take on it currently is as such:

Continued Existence

Being Related to Others

Fulfillment

Making a Difference/Being Creative

Agency

A succinct yet expansive list.

Many of the activities we take or do as humans cover or impact a number of these at once, and that’s great. Those activities, for us individually, are what light us up the most.

Many may seem contradictory, or one is necessary for the other, but I think not so much. Even in our earliest days as a species, when things were touch and go in terms of food or shelter or not being eaten, we still painted on the walls. We gathered.  We sang songs. We created items of design and beauty.

It is our strength and connection and drive for all of these that have allowed us to come along this long and this far.

Each one is as important as the others; each are vital to the being of a human being.

Some may call to us more strongly than others at different times of our life. Things wax and wane.

It is likely that I/we as an individual often don’t recognize that the actions or how the actions of others are also aiming to fulfill on these. We know ourselves and our views and how we like to and how we do accomplish these, and erroneously assume that it is the same for others as well. Without looking out for it, we may not see it or assume (and label) others as being dead in one of those areas.

On the flip side, even though these are fundamental and we crave them, often we have barriers to our experience of them or to our ability to act on and to be effective towards them. These barriers are not flaws, or we are not broken, they are just barriers. When they are removed, the experience of life intensifies gloriously.

These may not only be wants per se, they may actually be human needs.

When we are thwarted in achieving these, either through our barriers or from external sources, or both, we react very strongly. We fight for them, in various ways.

When we experience them, however, it is a visceral, blissful feeling.

Architecture Monday

Today, by complete coincidence*, we watched a TED lecture by Pritzker prize winner Alejandro Aravena. “If there’s any power in design, that’s the power of synthesis,” is how he started his talk. What a great description.

Architecture is the synthesis of many different and disparate endeavours, desires, and influences: function, context, culture, codes, structure, community, shelter, beauty, art, experience, cost, energy, usability… all to generate form and space and inhabitation that can touch and excite and calm and tickle the soul while providing us with the places where we live, work, congregate, exchange, eat, and play.

To this end, and one of the drivers of his prize award, is Alejandro’s work in the field of housing in underserved areas. Taking his cue from the very favelas his work is meant to ameliorate, he developed a brilliant concept: if the $ available could only pay for half of the generally necessary size of house, then, rather than think about building a small house, build half a house. Wisely choose what half to build. Leave the other half for the inhabitants to build and develop.

Thus, behold:

click for more

Homes with voids, pre-slotted for a non-pre-ordained expansion**. “The more complex the problem, the more the need for simplicity.” A simple, almost comically so (well, let’s just build half a house!) idea, executed well, providing good, safe, housing, while also bringing forward the same of place and of ownership of community by the owners as did the favelas through their own hands.

 

* I had chosen what talk we’d watch several weeks ago – I swear I am not on any secret Pritzker judge committee!

** Note, too, the lack of adherence to a particular form or style, creating each time instead.

Philosophy Tuesday

One of my favourite ways of looking at transformation is through the phrase, “Make the sandbox bigger!”

Because that’s what mindfulness, philosophy, ontology, and transformation makes available.

It isn’t about the right way of living, it isn’t about a set of proscriptions and rules, it isn’t about only looking at things one way, it isn’t a straightjacket.

It’s the opposite.

It is about taking our views which have usually, unintentionally, become narrow like this \/ and instead make them open up wide like this _ _.

It’s about gaining new vistas and creating new openings.

It’s about being able to see how we got to be the way we are, and even more it’s about being able to actually see how we are being, get present to our experience of life, and then going beyond to choose and create our life.

It’s about gaining access to whole new realms of possibility – not just new possibilities, but whole new realms of possibilities.

And, perhaps above, all, it transforms our experience of life to one of creation, invention, and wonder.

We get to play more.

AND

We have more toys to play with.

AND

We gain an expanded realm to play in.

We have a bigger sandbox.

Let’s go play.

Architecture Monday

Also during my trip to TO for the holidays I visited (with @Articulationsv!) the Art Gallery of Ontario, which features an addition by Frank Gehry*.

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While I’ve been to a Gehry building before (the Disney Concert Hall in LA) and I’ve heard him speak before**, this was my first time really able to experience the space/inside of a Gehry building. His works are sculptural for sure, bold forms and make quite the impact on the urban fabric, but I was reserved on Gehry as a whole until I got a chance to go inside and really experience the space within, to experience what his craft has wrought.

The addition to the AGO is a moderate one, especially in comparison to the other big museum in Toronto, the Royal Ontario Museum (added to by Liebeskind). Off the top/back is a large metal clad box (I call it the big LEGO brick) with some sculptural stairs intersecting into an existing re-opened central atrium. But it’s the fish – that undulating glazed frame on the front known as the Gallery Italia – that is the big draw.

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The inside of the fish is a long gallery of the “long room or passage, typically one that is partly open at the side to form a portico or colonnade” variety, an ancillary space to the artwork gallery it adjoins. Formed by large pieces of timber (inspired by the model ship collection contained in a lower-level gallery), it creates a rather warm and rhythmic feel while moderating the potentially overwhelming scale of its length. The detail work is simple but executed nicely with precision.

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Spatially, I give it a thumbs up. It’s a nice space to be in, at least at night when I visited, a hushed space to pop out of the art galleries and take a breather. Proportionally it works well, and the richness of the wood and glass work well together. Overall it’s rather restrained – something that I normally wouldn’t associate with Gehry’s name – and it works.

I don’t know how this compares to Gehry’s other works, and I’d like to visit more to get a better sense of him as an architect. But here at least the space created within is a fine one, and a fine enough addition to the existing museum.

 

* The AGO being his first project in his hometown of Toronto.

** I didn’t really know much about Frank when I heard him speak in Montreal during the start of a trip we took in second year university. What I mostly remember from the lecture was that he spent at least half of it talking about hockey, playing hockey, watching hockey, etc. I don’t remember a single thing about the rest of his lecture, or if he even showed any slides. I only remember this as the architect guy who talked about hockey. Since then I’ve watched more of his lectures, such as those on TED, and he’s talked not one whit about hockey…