Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Way Like Water

After a couple days' rumination, some thoughts on chapter 43 from the Tao te Ching.

What I normally thing of as "to be like water" is to go with the flow, to take the path of least resistance. It seems like a good starting point, but not a complete instruction. At points one will want to embody the wearing qualities of water, to change or redirect events... but wisdom, I think, must guide one - just because we have power doesn't mean it is wise always to use it. Observation and consideration, then, should occupy the bulk of one's time. Decisive action - right action, right timing - occasional, but powerful for the deliberation guiding it.

That would be the ideal, of course - experienced reality may vary...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I feel like an adult.

The cover story in this morning's Sun Times has been at the back of my mind all day.

Three college students died on Lower Wacker, a serpentine stretch of road that cuts through downtown Chicago, punctuated by few lights and slowed by little traffic. It's a road I know well and use regularly - it's the fastest route from I-290 to Lake Shore Drive. It's a fun place to drive fast. It's not the safest; there are also a few blind turns, blind on-ramps, and driveways to truck docks. Last night's wet road conditions made it dangerous, the kids had a fast car. It was bound to happen. They didn't have to die.

And I can't help but think that these kids didn't have to die. Kids. And that I would have driven it safely... mostly because age and experience would have me making more conservative choices in the same situation. I feel like an adult.

Friday, March 09, 2007

ah yes, that reality

Getting up an hour and a half earlier has kept me in strange states of partial awakeness all week, so I'm not at all looking forward to this weekend's time change robbing me of another precious hour. For the last few months, everything's been not quite real, and as though it's happening to somebody else, or something: I'm fairly removed from the action. The job is fine; perhaps in a couple of weeks it'll seem less surreal. It's always surreal, new stuff, until I get accustomed to it - and then it's as though it's always been that way.

Time's become an even more precious commodity: until I can work out the schedule, lifestyle is out the window. So, the rush of excitement and amazement at being accepted into the NSUC art fair was quickly overshadowed by the realization that I have a lot of work to do. Have some eye candy.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sorting files occasionally is fun.

Of the photos I've taken, this is a favorite. I took a half-day off of work one summer to photograph the church where I grew up. Mainly this post is to share the image, but I also kind of want to ramble about church renovations.

This particular building was renovated about 25 years after it was built. On the one hand, there's the existing architecture - majestic glue-laminated wood structure, brilliant stained glass. Since it was the 70s, the altar, ambo, and whatever-you-call-the-thing-that-holds-the-tabernacle were all wood. For some reason, deep red carpet throughout. Paint accents, for the few bits of statuary and in the sanctuary, were burnt orange and sand. Like I said, 70s. But within its own character. The renovation took place under 5 years ago. Sanctuary has stone or cast-stone tile, mostly in a pale slate blue. New carpet is a deeper blue, but not super-saturated; in fact, kind of an inoffensive dark blue, but not navy (true or conventional). The sanctuary set is white stone - which I don't mind. But the whole front of the church is in a different character than the original architecture, and that makes me sad. The stained glass is really brilliant, but it's rare to be there with the lights low.

My grandparents' church was built around the same time, and in a similar character. The whole thing's been painted white and is as sterile as an airport terminal - in fact, there's little to indicate that it's a church at all. The pews were replaced with chairs (please, if there is a community center, why and when would they be rearranged?). It's brighter, all right, but I'd have put in the white soffits and stopped before making the walls or native wood structure white. When a building actually expresses its structure, especially these gorgeous wood ones (think massive, often arching, members), it's architectural blasphemy to whitewash it.

What happened? The pastor wanted something, and some hapless architect, probably against his better judgement, carried it out.