The first, when asked what they are doing, says, “I am chipping away at this stone.”
The second, when asked, excitedly says, “I am building a cathedral!”
Both are engaged in the same task. They’re literally doing the same thing. Yet they are having a vastly different experience of life. While the first works in the context of a job, a task, a simple means to an end*, the second is works within a context that brings grandeur and fulfillment and creativity and pulls for their pride and self-expression.
Same circumstances, yet to each the stone looks different, the chisel looks different, the process feels different, and through all those they each, very likely, produce vastly different results in terms of speed, quality, and overall excellence in their work. Not to mention which one goes home ready to zone out and which one is still energized at the end of the day…
Same task, but different worlds. Not by luck or anything inherent but brought into being through invention. Their individual invention.**
Tasks are tasks. We get to create how we relate to them, who we will be, and ultimately influence how our day will go and feel.
* That’s actually hidden within a subcontext, that itself is and contains an “in order to”
** And if they/we don’t do it consciously, then they’ll simply invent what they already know, what’s already around them and copy their inherited contexts, whether they are empowering or not.
Maybe it’s something about spending so much time indoors that has me looking at libraries so much of late… whatever the reason, here’s another lovely one and one that I can check out the next time I can head back home to visit!
Wood. Definitively lots of wood going on here. Big, muscular, impressive wood, using engineered mass timber construction from responsibly managed lands (I am unsure if this is FSC certified, but I hope so). Arranged like a series of curving splayed fingers, each topped with a green roof, it opens towards the public square with a giant portico. It’s got great visual complexity, changing appearance from every angle, its various bits always in a dance with each other.
That beefy post and beam structure allows all below to be enclosed entirely with glass. Inside the veritable forest of leaning trunks and all that light makes for a vibrant experience, almost cathedral-like. It also allows for maximum flexibility; as its role evolves over time, the library can shuffle itself around to suit the needs of the community.
A very cool, engaging, and fun design. Top shelf work.
The Peabody Library in Baltimore, by Matthew Chrisopher
So much of our lives seem to revolve around zero-sum games. Certainly, many of the actual games we play reinforce that idea, that there is a single (even if it’s a team) winner and everyone else falls short. Or as we get caught up in the false-gravity game of money and the economy of scarcity. Or when we were young and told to share our toys or treats with a friend or brother or classmate – that was super clear, wasn’t it? If I gave you half my cookie, then I had less for me (and certainly no more cookie was coming).
To be sure, there are zero-sum instances and games around, both the real and the ones we play (often inadvertently) as though they were real. But it is well worth remembering that not everything is one, and it is even more fruitful to live as though zero-sum games are the exception.
Love, happiness, generosity, wellbeing, joy, passion, satisfaction, vitality, health, performance, productivity, laughter, kindness, fulfillment, peace… there are so many areas in life where the things are not finite, are not created and destroyed in equal measures. They are abundant, never-ending, available to be pulled from, always gushing forth to allow us to drink from the proverbial firehose.
True, we may need to get over our own barriers to do so, and those barriers may be mighty indeed, but through this world of abundance and generosity we gain oodles of support and care, buoying us as we work our way to overcome or, even better, dismantle the barriers.
In this realm we get to play whole different kind of games, ones that have us build and grow and feel big and great and happy. And while the Buddha never really said the following, it’s a fine place to remind us of this non-zero-sum place in which to stand and live from:
The Spruce Goose. The largest flying boat ever designed, built, and flown. Well, flown for all of about a mile at an altitude of 70ish feet before being retired, probably more famous for its Howard Hughes origin than its impact in aviation. But the thing had to be built somewhere, and its large hanger was equally impressive in its size. With the plane gone, though, what to make of all that space? For a time it was used as an epic soundstage (both Titanic and Avatar were filmed there) but it has recently been converted into offices.
From the outside, it looks pretty much like a hangar, albeit with some added and angular windows to break apart the corners. Architecture is about the inside though (space is where it happens!), and that’s where things get interesting here. A wonderful example of adaptive reuse, the project inserts a whole separate ‘building’ within the functioning and restored hangar structure. And while these new bits inside are decent enough, it’s their interplay with the beauty and grandeur of the exquisite nature of the bent-wood structure that really makes the project cool. Balconies, sinuous walkways, intricate boardwalks, overlooks, and plenty of glass all create a 3D kaleidoscope that offers views throughout the various levels and functions while also highlighting the hangar itself.
And I just love this piece of hanging art, re-creating the outline of the Spruce Goose!
Of course, there’s some absurdness at play here for such a large set of offices that is now for sure not going to be occupied until at least mid-next year. But if office time ever becomes a thing again, this would be a mighty fine place to work.
(Oh my! Apparently the Kittenbus is from a short film being screened at the Ghibli Museum! So wonderful: https://twitter.com/ghibli_world/status/1294270435396218886)
Most of the time, we take credit for our successes and – at best – make excuses or – at worst – blame others and the circumstances for our failures.
It turns out, though, that taking ownership of our failures and being generous in sharing our successes is where real power derives.
Something experimental and different for us to explore tonight. Called The Arches, it is a “kit of parts” that can be deployed to create usable/inhabitable space under the archways of elevated rail lines, roadways, water ways, and the like.
It’s a nifty idea. Using interlocking (sustainably sourced and CNC-cut) wood boxes, the whole thing is self-supporting, easily erected, and can be dismantled to be re-used elsewhere. Overhead beams clip onto the arched box end pieces to provide support for insulation as well as lights and other utilities, while pallets form the base for a floor. Lastly, polycarbonate panels complete the deal lining the outside faces, providing light while maintaining privacy. Oh, and bonus feature: the boxes that form the structure double as cubbyholes for storage or display. Taken all together, it takes advantage of the shelter provided by the existing infrastructure to create a quick way to enclose new usable space for minimal cost and effort.
Though I’m not quite sure where that fox came from…