Philosophy Tuesday

There’s an additional side to the quasi-Shakespearian quote,

“Resentment is a fire that burns with more light than heat.”

And it’s an important side!  And a side we rarely think about or engage with, despite, perhaps paradoxically, the impact it has on us.  Sure, as we spoke about already, we can look at the quote through the lens of being productive and what leads to better outcomes.  But the other side of it is what smacks us in the face every day: our experience of life within.

Because resentment, bitterness, malice, harshness, nastiness… well, turns out being in those states is just not pleasant.  For sure, we may get that little charge that comes from being righteous*, but overall?  It’s not great.

And it can be very hard to notice that!  Just as we cease to notice how cold the lake is after we’ve been swimming in it for a few minutes, the lousy experience of the moments spent in resentment and spite and anger just becomes the water we’re swimming in when we do it more and more, day in and day out.

Doubly unfortunate is that, when this becomes the water level we float on, even great moments are dampened.  When our baseline is a 1 or a 2, even an amazing +4 event only registers as a 6.  And the reverse is worse, for a terrible -4 event really sends us into the negative doldrums.  And when things are the status quo?  Well, we and our experience float along at that not-all-that-pleasant-or-nice-feeling of a 1 or a 2.

That lowly experience becomes invisible to such a degree that when we are able to give up those harsh, automatic, already, always, consistent ways of being and begin breaking out of it/them for the first time, many (myself included!) describe the feeling in this manner: “Suddenly I felt good in a way I didn’t even know was missing.  Or that even existed.  Or that was even possible.”

Best of all, when we stop draining our lake with resentment et al, and as we begin to float along at a 7 or 8, those +4 events push us high into the lovely double digits.  And those terrible -4 moments?**  Amusingly they can’t even push us down to the level of our previous baseline.

When we bring mindfulness to our practice and give up (as in consciously, willingly, workingly, and ongoingly) our resentment and harshness, we gain access not only to a newfound effectiveness in what we authentically desire, but also to an enhanced experience of life where we can rise up, shine with vitality, experience joy, experience love and relatedness, soar high, and set forth with gusto.

 

* Something that, as a recovering righteousoholic, I am well familiar with…

** Which, nicely, with practice in mindfulness and equanimity, what used to be a -4 event may only register as a -2 event, further keeping our experience from crashing down.  Which, triply nicely, also allows us to be more effective in resolving it more quickly!

Architecture Monday

A little serenity for us all tonight, in the form of a Reflection pavilion on the TEC campus in Mexico.

No surprise, the building is a series of lovely, quiet, and calming spaces.  It harnesses both the play of light and water, while it’s big concrete form acts as a frame towards the landscape beyond.

Nice and sweet.  Breathe in, breathe out, and recentre.

Reflection Space TEC by Taller de Arquitectura X / Alberto Kalach

Architecture Monday

I’ve prided myself on being able to Tetris space really well… no matter if it’s packing a car or making the most of my living space.  However, I gotta say this small house really elevates the art of Tetrising to a whole new, delicious, level!

This tiny home is built in a hutong, a narrow alley between an existing wall and adjacent building.  And not only that, it’s wrapped around a corner.  But it’s no dark, awkward, and cramped hovel.  By leaving one edge continually open as a kind of atrium hallway – including making great use of the tall and curved wall it adjoins by painting finishing it white and running a continual skylight along its edge – and placing nearly all of the living spaces on the other side as a series of adaptable cubic follies, it’s got great flow, feeling airy and even expansive.

Varying in height and chock full of tiny living tricks, bits of these follies slide and shift to reconfigure the spaces as needed to accommodate various uses, providing plenty of communal day space that becomes more private as it shifts to sleepy time.  At one end, a large glass door and window is actually one giant unit that can swing completely open, making the back patio and the house into one.  Equally nifty is that the cubes are fully climbable, leading to spaces left dedicated to children play, study, and sleep areas.  It’s kind of like the ultimate bunk bed or tree house, but still inside.  (Fear not, the adults aren’t completely left out of the fun, for on the other side of the L, there’s also a mezzanine bedroom and office.)

(And seeing that bench brings me a smile, for I have one of those in my foyer as well!   Though sometimes it’s also used to practice kung fu… then again, for all I know, so is the one in the photo…)

I love this.  Really smart design that creates an awesome house in the most conventionally unlikely of places, showing that the boxes in our mind of what a house needs to be can be quickly expanded with some carefully packed yet playful boxes in a creative home.  Nicely done.

Dengshikou Huton Residence by BLUE Architecture Studio

I Am Published – Again!

Yes!  After much intense writing and wrangling, Volume 2 of the Northern Shaolin Kung Fu series that I co-wrote with my Sifu is now available for all!

As before, I might be a bit biased*, but this book is a fabulous addition to your Kung Fu library, whether you practice Northern Shaolin or not.  There is so much great insight and wisdom from my Sifu that has been distilled into this tome, covering Northern Shaolin’s advanced concepts, the generation of internal power (and what that even means), the principles of application and fighting, the exploration of all ten of the core Northern Shaolin hand forms, a multitude of advanced weapons, and even more.  Coming in at 50% larger than the first volume, this thing is packed with great stuff!

You can order your own copy (and check out Sifu Lam’s other great books as well) here:

Northern Shaolin Book Vol 2 by Sifu Wing Lam

And as a bonus, I’ll be hosting a live streamed Q&A session on August 22nd (at 430p EDT/130p PDT).  If you order the book before August 12th 2020 we’ll send you an invite to the livestream!

I am thrilled (tempered with the trepidation with something so personal being released for all to see) to have the book released to the world.  After nearly 20 years of practice I still love the art, and this book is stuffed with everything I could think of from all that I’ve learned from Sifu and from what I’ve gleaned through all that diligent practice.  I worked closely with Sifu to gather the material for the book and get it captured for posterity before he passed.  This is most definitively part of his legacy, and I am humbled to be able to be a part of it.  I hope it illuminates and teaches, and I hope that our passion for the art and – even more so – for sharing the art comes through its many pages.

 

* And as before, natch, I am very biased since I wrote it…

Architecture Monday

This is cool.  In a mountain village well known for its tofu, a new commercial kitchen that allows for the local families to not only hone their craft, but do so in a food-grade-certificate environment.

Gently stepping down to follow both the landscape and the adjacent river, this is no typical industrial-food ‘factory’.  With its assemblage of sawtooth roofs and windows all around, it’s the very definition of light-filled and keeps the cooks connected to the community.  And vice-versa, opening up this region’s traditions for all to see, whether local or a new tourist clientele.  Like a series of terraces, the stepping nature of the building and site also allows for gardens and greenery all the way down, leading to a tofu-tastic tasting room.

Count me as a fan of this.  Great use of the the program, matching the process of tofu making to with a long and linear building that is further enhanced by using the natural topography of the site.  Add in a great use of elegant wood construction with plenty of glass and the rich tones of the stone floor that’s nicely mirrored in the kitchen’s counters.  Great stuff.

Tofu Factory by DnA