Philosophy Tuesday

Here’s something interesting came to mind recently that might prove useful to create a clearing and a more productive relationship with our “goals” in life:  making a distinction between “tactical goals” (smaller scale, direct, and in pursuit of something concrete) and “life goals” (large scale, longer term, and encompassing many aspects of life).

When we lump them together, think of them both as just “goals,” and then relate to them in the same way, they tend to mush together in a way that can lead us toward a couple of big pitfalls.   The first is that we can get caught up with equal fervor or grit while pursuing the both of them, to a degree where it often becomes unproductive.  But while with a tactical goal the short duration and the specific expected outcome limits the reach of it, while also providing end points where we can reflect and choose to let go of the goal, with life goals they can become so all-encompassing that it not only can more easily veer into unproductive and deleterious territory but when they do we often don’t abandon it and, instead, get stubborn and double down.  (With double the unfortunate results.)

The second is that we can get single-minded, or more accurately, single-pathed about it, and not realize that when it comes to life goals there may be many paths towards fulfilling our vision. Or, even more so, we may get so locked in on that goal that we might miss that our vision and desires can be filled in many ways and that the goal we set, and the path we locked ourselves into, isn’t what we actually or authentically want.  Which can then feed back into the first pitfall and we get stubborn and…

By keeping them distinct it allows us to keep our perspective and to keep how we relate to each of them proper for their respective scales.  And as such interact with them in their proper and fruitful ways.  To to facilitate that, maybe it’s best to rename “life goals” to something else… authentic inspirations?  Eh, that doesn’t really roll off the tongue, but whatever we choose can help to keep the two apart and to facilitate making the proper tactical goals along the way towards fulfilling our authentic inspirations.

Architecture Monday

A giant, pink, spiraling, sculptural staircase.  That bold gesture forms the heart of this townhome, where even the main walls spiral inward in unison.

The stairway also acts as a giant atrium and kind of courtyard, pulling light to nearly all rooms as well as allowing a tree to grow in the main living/dining area of the home.  It also allows the house to operate in the vertical direction, creating continual visual connections across all levels so that the family can be in touch with each other as they pass from room to room.

All those interlocking spirals and forms coupled with the play in levels creates a tonne of interesting little spatial and sculptural moments, where light and materials and plants all get to dance together.  Very neat and solid work!

Maison TT by Nghia-Architect

Philosophy Tuesday

Slowly, my practice changed.

I kissed the hem of each new day

and breathed, as gently

as you press a pear to see

if it is ripe, as slowly

as you separate your hand

from the back of a sleeping child.

And I praised this life,

a late-March garden

where new growth stands

on the bones of the old.

… from the poem Barbarous World by Ginny Hoyle

Architecture Monday

A double bandstand, one facing east at ground level looking onto the city, one facing west and elevated looking onto the local volcano.  Both nestled within in a simple barrel-vault made of rough and vibrant local stone.  A space for community, for music learning and performance, and for theatre and gatherings.  A gem of a design.

Kithara Music Kiosk by TO Architects

Wonder Wednesday

These are mesmerizing x-ray-like illustrations of the major train stations in Tokyo (Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Tokyo central)… all the more incredible as they were done in ballpoint pen!

It also calls to mind how amazing the those rail stations are, with multiple services and intricate schedules (as illustrated here just a few weeks ago) and how they’ve interwoven themselves with the urban fabric as they’ve grown, and in doing so integrated themselves into the city, becoming mini cities in their own right.

Wild, wonderful work by Tomoyuki Tanaka

Philosophy Tuesday

One of the reasons we may glom onto simple explanations and binary/dichotomous thinking while resisting nuance and complexity is because (likely often) we’re already tired from the social conditions of money and debt, of our living situations, of dominance shenanigans, of terrible design (urban and otherwise), and many other things causing friction, frustration, hardship, hurt, and just downright exhaustion.

And so, we think that we don’t have enough energy or enough brainpower to fully engage.  It’s easier to go into full reductivist mode, listen to our inner hacks, and latch onto whatever we think will bring us the most comfort.  Sometimes (often?) with a touch of make-wrong so we can also pretend we have agency by labelling others.

Now, it’s not that we don’t face a lot of friction in our everyday lives and that we don’t need to expend a lot of energy dealing with many things.*  The thing is, by holding onto that excuse and unattentively and letting those hack stories take over, we rob ourselves not only of a lot of the rich and varied experiences that is available in life, but more unfortunately also of the chances of resolving those very things that we keep having to grind through.

It becomes a rut.

It may even feel designed purposefully designed.  And, perhaps (often?), it is.  Because to keep us stuck in this state allows those who loot and deprive us to keep on doing it.  If we can’t engage, we can’t work towards ameliorating the system.

But that bit where we feel we don’t have the energy or brainpower to engage?  That’s also a ruse (both one of our own and one they also peddle to keep us on the sidelines).  We can take a breather**, then head in.  A little bit here, a little bit there, working together, we can strive towards a more just, verdant, equitable, diverse, beautiful, and peaceful life for all.


* Though, mindfulness and ontological inquiry can make an amazing difference here – it was downright astounding to me just how much more smoothly all my days went once I’d begun taking myself on and practicing for a while.  Doubly astounding was how much of that friction was self-inflicted…

** And with mindfulness in action we’ll be less drained to begin with, and able to dive in even more fully.