Where to start? I came across an amusing Guardian article this morning (do read):
It’s easy to lose sight of the important role beauty plays in our lives. It’s even easier to get lost in all the chaos of striving – e.g. making a living, putting a roof over our heads, food on the table, staying one step ahead of the proverbial Jones’s ad infinitum. I think we have it backwards though. Too often we prioritize the idea of making a living at the expense of making a life, as though the two are somehow mutually exclusive.
A man I’d never heard of before by the name of Neave Brown was honoured recently with a RIBA Gold Medal – British architecture’s most prestigious award. This is remarkable for two reasons: first, he is best known for innovations in his design of social housing, and second it was one of these projects, tragically and ironically, that led to the ruination of his career in Britain. Why should we care?
Neave Brown has never made any distinction between his designs for social housing as being any different from those of any other client. In his own words, “In each case, I didn’t think I was designing social housing, but just housing. Good London housing.”
And we happen to live in times which call for just this kind of intelligence and decency.
Having limited options comes with it’s own peculiar form of liberation. The realization that I may not be able to save myself requires letting that ‘option’ go and invites instead exploring what is left – living with intensity, integrity and focusing on what really matters.
“How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun.” -Thomas Merton
We are a work obsessed culture. And we seem to have come to abuse the term in much the same way we do the words ‘love’ and ‘friendship’. ‘Work’ has now come to be associated with 60+ hour weeks, an absurd pride in all the deprivation that implies and lying to ourselves that this is ‘necessary’. It’s not. What it is is a symptom of our collective cultural insanity.
I don’t think there is a more demanding practice than authenticity – being who we are called to be in the world. Let’s be honest though, the whole concept is a bit fuzzy and open to interpretation. Because of this on the one hand we probably shouldn’t cling too tightly to narrow interpretations of who we have come to believe ourselves to be so far, and on the other it really is incumbent upon us to proceed from here with greater caution, care and discernment than we may be used to exercising.
Life has gotten pretty scary – hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes. Worse than this though is the relative indifference with which one very privileged country’s leader has ‘responded’ to all this. Do I really have to name him? He is mayhem personified, worse than all natural disasters combined. We are going to lose some people to the hurricanes, floods and wildfires, but nowhere will the toll for loss of humanity be as high as it is under the indifferent gaze of he-who-shall-remain-nameless. Here’s why.