Archive for the ‘Daily’ Category

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 18, 2020

As we go through life – and this is doubly so when we are young, for it starts very early on – we hear things, see things, and learn things about the world and about living in it.  Things that we ourselves are years away from having to actually live through or to deal with.  Even in the cases where we experience some aspect(s) of it directly, like being a child of a parent, we are not on that end of it yet.  It is still some other world that lives out there in our, potential, future.

But we’re still getting ready for it.  Not deliberately… no, our minds are simply always vacuuming in all the data it can and vacuuming it in from everywhere.  Some comes from directly observing those around us, some comes from hearing what they say and describe, some comes from education, and a surprising amount comes from the stories we hear.  Just by the sheer amount and presence of media (be it books, movies, TV, etc) and, especially, due to the narrative structures they use to make it compelling, the stories we consume play a big role in what goes into our vacuum.

And like that our minds continue to pull it all in, cross-referencing, checking which ones agree with each other, bolstering those that are repeated, and all the while forming its model of the world.  A model that turns out to be invisible to us and that is, to our day-in and day-out lived experience, simply reality.  It’s how things are.

Until that one day when BAM!  In an instant we cross that bridge and are now confronted with a whole ‘new’ situation.  BAM, married.  BAM, a parent.  BAM, in the workforce.   BAM, an adult.  BAM, (fill in the blank here).  All of a sudden, we’re thrust into it.  We’ve never been there.  We’ve never done this.  We’ve never been in this position before.  There’s nothing for our prediction engine to guide us on how to behave/be/act.

Except, of course, for those realities, all those things about the world and living in it that, for years, our mind has dutifully been storing and crafting.  And so we immediately pull from it, and likewise immediately begin living it out.  We perpetuate it.  It becomes a self-fulfilling story.  Even if the outcome may not be great or bring us or those around us joy, freedom, love, or peace of mind, it’s how it IS… we’ve even got all this evidence for it.  How could we act or be in any other way?  It’d be like breaking the laws of physics, right?

Not at all.  No physics breaking required.  Just being present, mindful, and remembering that many of the ways we experience things and many of the ways we be in life are not intentional on our part.  We weren’t squeezed out of the womb with it.  Rather, we are just repeating a pattern that we automatically cobbled together over time.  And, most importantly, it doesn’t have to be that way, nor do we have to be that way.  It is interruptable.

And with that we instantly gain a measure of freedom and choice.  In that clearing, we can reorient ourselves towards new and glorious possibilities, possibilities that enliven us and all those around us.

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Architecture Monday

February 17, 2020

This is not an accident.  It is not a truck that drove into the sea.  It’s not a beached whale either.  It is a restaurant, appropriately named “Under.”

Just recently completed (and, alas, too far away for me to visit on my equally recent trip) at the southernmost point of Norway, the angled concrete tube that forms its shell pokes its head above the waterline like a rising sea creature.  On one face, the concrete is peeled back to reveal rich oak siding, where a bridge spans the gap between the shoreline and this entrance.  Battered by frequent storms (often several per day, lasting a few hours before becoming calm once more), waves crash across its surface like a kinetic sculpture, bringing witness to the marvelous power of nature.

Inside, things take a serene turn.  The reclaimed oak paneling transitions to fabric wrapped panels as you descend past the bar and towards the restaurant, with colours slowly changing from pink to coral to green to luscious midnight blue.  But, situated at the end of the subtly curved tube, it is the window that most catches the eye.  Enormous, it looks out onto the shallow depths to give a stunning glimpse of the highly varied marine life that exists in this tidal pool.  A second window slices vertically along the side of the bar and mezzanine, extending from the sky to below the sea, the tableau changing hourly with the rise and fall in the weather.

This is definitively theatrical architecture, but not in a way that I think is pejorative.  It takes an idea, an interesting concept, and uses it as a starting point to develop a design that is more than the sum of its parts, and way more than just a “gimmick plus a box.”  It is done with care and with an attention to detail that makes for a stunning space.  Great stuff.

Under by the amazing folks (and still one of my favs) at Snøhetta.

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Wonder Wednesday

February 12, 2020

by Maxime Daviron

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 11, 2020

Someone once shared with me the story about a woman who had long been a triathlete.  She did all the things a triathlete would do:  she trained diligently every day (often in the early morning), she traveled to and entered several races every year, she tracked her progress and adjusted things as needed, read magazines, bought all the clothes, had the sticker on her car, and on and on.  It was a big part of her life.  Being a triathlete was her thing!  She WAS a triathlete!  She told people she loved it.  And through all that she indeed did quite well at it.

One day though, doing the kind of philosophical work that unconceals our barriers and blind spots, she saw for herself what had her be so ambitious and so single-minded when it came to triathlons.  Many, many years ago, through circumstances that involved her father, she had made a decision:  “I will be a triathlete, and I will crush it.”  She also remembered that soon thereafter is when she began training, and how quickly it grew to the prominent (and priority) place it now held in her life.  How all encompassing it had become.

And, no doubt, that decision gave her drive, it gave her tenacity, and it pushed her onward when things were tough, whether in training, on the field, or in other areas of her life.  It was motivation, and, well, it motivated, always moving things forward as a powerful force in her life that helped her achieve a lot of results she liked.

But it gave her no freedom.  It wasn’t a possibility, it was a position, quickly forged into her identity with all the rigidness and protection that entailed.  She wasn’t in it for herself.  It may have originated from an initial desire, yes, but it became about her father, about those circumstances, about the world, and all about something that happened in her past.  Everything she did in that area came with a big dose of “in order to”, an ulterior (albeit hidden) motive.

And so, even though she was successful, there was little fulfillment in it all.

Years later, sitting in that workshop, the memory of that decision vivid.  But in that moment of clarity and insight, she put aside her decision.  She let it go, and in so doing, a clearing was created, inside of which a choice arose:  to swim/bike/run, or not to swim/bike/run.

She chose to be a triathlete.

Now, it may seem like there’s no switch there, or that it was the easy choice, but it was so much more than that.  Because for first time she, authentically, from a place of freedom, was choosing to be a triathlete.  In a way that was totally in line with who she wanted to be.  And inside of that choice, something amazing happened.  For the first time she began to enjoy the training, the competitions, and the whole world of being a triathlete both to a level that she never knew was possible, and in a way that she hadn’t realized before how much she hadn’t been enjoying it.  The lid had been blown off on her experience, and it was awesome.

To the outside observer, it may seem that nothing had changed.  But for her, the whole world shifted.  She was expressing herself fully through the act of the triathlon.  She gained fulfilment, passion, joy, excitement, elation.  And, as a sweet, sweet bonus, her performance rocketed to new heights almost instantly.  Unbridled, she soared, in both meanings of the word.

Mindfulness, ontological digging, and transformation are wonderful for those areas of our lives where something isn’t working or isn’t working as well as we’d like to.  But the impact they can have on those areas of life that are already going great can be even more exciting and amazing.  Not to mention definitively surprising!  After all, it was already good, how much better can it be?

Bucketloads better, it turns out.

Ready to reach for the stars?  Let’s go…

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Architecture Monday

February 10, 2020

Oh this is a fun one.  A tumble of baskets?  A series of stacked boxes?  A series of wood piles?  Or yes to all of the above, writ large to the size of a building.

A museum in the middle of a dense urban area, the interlocking wood cubes are both neat and also break down the building to both fit within the scale of the surrounding town.  At the same time, they also allow it and the site to bridge between different street heights via ramped stairway.  It’s definitively a playful composition, with the slats that make up the boxy forms sometimes tightly woven, sometimes spread apart to act as a sunscreen, sometimes extended to become railings for patios, and sometimes completely empty, making for a fancy portico hovering overhead.

Inside, the same language drills down the centre of the building as a twisty atrium, connecting the various gallery levels together and letting sun penetrate deeply throughout.  Starting tall on the first floor for large-scale works, the floors gradually get shorter as they rise through the building, creating more intimate spaces for smaller works of art.  All the while, that central shaft of wood acts as a friendly wayfinder.

A bright museum that invites all while integrating itself into the surrounding urban fabric.  Very nicely developed!

The Odunpazari Modern Art Museum by Kengo Kuma & Associates

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Wonder Wednesday

February 5, 2020

(This is totally where I want my next birthday party to be held…)

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Philosophy Tuesday

February 4, 2020

Our great desire and need to be known and heard and related

Often shows up to us as “attention being paid to me.”

And yet, so much of our life now is about that not happening.

Through phones interrupting interactions,

Or communication happening online,

Or through some game or thing,

There is always something mediating & hiding whether attention is being paid,

Or displacing the attention,

Or reducing it through memes and emojis and entirely common

(And thus non personal/attention giving)

Modes, means, and methods of communication.

And so we seek it, seek that attention, seek it hard.

And we desire and pursue fame,

Because we think famous people are payed attention.

And we desire and pursue the likes, hearts, reblogs, etc,

Because, gosh, wouldn’t that be grand.

So much attention!

Of course, and unfortunately,

It still wouldn’t be the attention of the type we seek.

We’d be left still wanting,

With a whole host of other, new, barriers and pitfalls.

As the saying goes,

“There’s no cheese down that tunnel.”

Fame, likes, and similar are all and the only the tools we see,

But they’re not the tools that will work.

There are other, more fruitful, ways to spend our energies,

To create the bonds and relations we want.

A chance to leave behind straitjacket systems & tools & their trap of currency,

And simply be present, pay attention, listen, and connect.