Philosophy Tuesday

In the last few years we got to train under Sifu an amusing scene would often play itself out.  One of us would ask him a question – usually about how we were trying to embody one of the concepts or apply one of the fundamentals – and he would respond with:  “Well….. yes/no.”

It happened often enough it became a running joke among us.

BUT! Within that humour lies some fundamental truth(s).  (No surprise, of course, given that it was Sifu…)

Take just about anything that’s deep and related and foundational, and as you explore it or use it or apply it or see it arise around you, very little is exclusive or binary.  Gradients exist everywhere. And elements that seem like opposites don’t always act in opposition to each other.  They may instead be differing sides of the same coin that work best when both are brought to bear in appropriate amounts.

Putting it a slightly different way, yes/no is the principal behind Yin and Yang and its notion of dualism where even seemingly contrasting energies not only are interconnected but they often contain (and, again, work best when they do engage) a little bit of the other in it.  In addition, there is a flow, with energies shifting and waxing and waning in differing amounts to respond to what’s appropriate in the moment.  When there is an unbalance, that’s when things fall apart.*

Which is something that we tested and experienced time and time again in our tai chi training!  Apply a particular concept or tension at 100%, and we would collapse.  But shift it a bit, even dialing it a little back by 10%, and then we would be strong.**  At our core, 60/40 was often the sweet spot, though at times 70/30 was a better split.  And we could be 90% at the point of application while maintaining balance within our core at 60/40, doubling the yin and yang to not only between differing concepts, but also between our active extremities and our rooted and originating core.

And while it manifests itself quite viscerally in the physical testing of our tai chi training, the concept of yes/no holds sway far beyond into all aspects of our individual lives to that of our families and communities and beyond.

Best of all, for me at least, I’m lucky that whenever I notice I’m beginning to stray from the middle path and set myself to wonder about it, I get to be guided back with Sifu’s voice echoing in my head with a delightful and amused “Well… yes/no.”

 

* To which, this yes/no idea also connects quite well to another of my favourite fundamental concepts, that of the Middle Path (from within the Buddhist tradition).

** Which is related to the concept of “Straight but not Straight” or as I called it “Shaolin Straight”.

Architecture Monday

A play of light and shadow, a patter of falling rain, a breeze that flows throughout, and a house that organizes itself around a covered courtyard pool, with geometric perforated concrete panels that lets all the above happen.

And geometric boldness pretty much rules the day all throughout the house.  There’s lots of cool stuff going on, as the house pulls and stretches this way and that to catch the light or a breeze.  Or to catch a tree, embracing a towering royal palm tree that becomes another courtyard.

The great hall, no surprise, is really the centerpiece, opening without barrier to the pool with the three skylights (two angled to catch the morning sun, the other to catch the evening) being just the beginning as the concrete screen above the pool further lets the light dance about.  As a bonus, the cross-ventilation from this open screen above the pool, plus those on the front and back of the house, keeps it cool and pleasant and lets everyone be late into the evening before any lights need to be turned on.

Great designs embrace their context, and this house does so in spades.  Great work, and looks like a very fun place to live.

Casa Delpín by Nataniel Fúster

Wonder Wednesday

A little over two weeks ago, I was supremely privileged to get to walk on hallowed ground… and in no way could I contain my excitement!

Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.  Yes, I totally squeed.  There is so much history from this pad:  Apollo, Skylab, Shuttle, F9, FH, and now Crew Dragon.  Amazing.  And while the technical bits are exciting, above all I am always moved to tears witnessing and being present to the great heights we can accomplish when we work together towards a lofty goal.

After the visit came time to watch the launch from the most prime of locations, atop OSB-2!

Needless to say, it was a grand time, 100% exhilarating and wonderful.  After the lifetime of never seeing a launch in person, twice now within a year.  And I’m very much down for more.

Philosophy Tuesday

We are quite familiar with the idea of, and the distinction between, a physical trainer and a physical therapist.

When it comes to the realm of being and the art of living, however, that same complementary duo isn’t nearly as present or as familiar.  Therapy is most of what inhabits that realm, and while the stigma around therapy is (fortunately) reducing, it nonetheless gets conflated with the “treating injury” or “fixing something” context of physical therapy.  (Which itself reinforces the existing subtext that we shouldn’t need any training and should somehow be fully adjusted and ready from the moment we’re squeezed out into the world.)

There could be much to be gained in furthering the same duo in this realm as well.

Architecture Monday

Ah, here’s another cool project (this one for a small coffee shop in Japan) that inhabits the space underneath a railroad bridge/trestle.  Nestled under one of its many repeating arches, it’s exactly what it says on the tin.  Patinaed concrete, rich exposed brick, and a double curve of the arched ceiling and concave back wall.

Nifty, and a nice complement to the Arches Project and to the Vans complex (both in the UK) which also inhabit under-rail spaces.

Blue Bottle Coffee Chiyoda City by Schemata Architects

Philosophy Tuesday

“… a lot of people think or believe or know they are being – but that’s thinking or believing or knowing, not being… almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to be.  Why?  Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you are being a lot of other people,  but the moment you are being, you’re nobody-but-yourself.”

—  e.e. cummings