I didn’t know that we would get together with the small group that we did for our event, but wow. We did. People had warned me: ‘Don’t expect too much; it’s a small town.’ I never expect anything, these days. I mean, with the conversation salons that I host that have such esoteric titling as ‘Rooftop Philosophy,’ for example, or ‘Beauty: what is it, who gets to decide?’ or, hey, this really happened, ‘The Book of Time,’ I never expect anyone
to come. But they do. Occasionally, they do.
And when they do, when they self-select to become part of ‘the experience’ as I think of S P A C E now, when I talk about it to my close associates and friends and mentors and when I begin to form budding partnerships with people who are also in the same line of work as me (making space for remarkable connexion), then yeah. It happens… we talk about what brought us out of our daily lives and into the shape of space that lets us slow for a moment, take the time out from the usual, and discover something about ourselves—together. It’s nice.
It really has been a pleasurable day of conversations and slow moments. Even with the new rain. A respite from the heat wave (?) that we were having here in Finland. (Did I say ‘we?’ Hm. How easily I adapt to wherever I am.)
By invitation only.
From here on, rather than hosting something and asking lots of people to come, and wondering if they will, the new angle will be much more personal. I guess it’s always been more ‘us’ that way, really. The parties in the nineties in Raleigh, for example. Or after that, in West Cork, then Seattle, then Durham NC. The salons in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and a smidge of stuff to begin, perhaps, in Kuala Lumpur. And of course smatterings of things in Scandinavia–where I find myself returning (Sweden, Denmark, now Finland. Norway is next, isn’t it.)
Personal connection, though. Is what we’re into. And we used to do that more. Calling. Writing letters, even. Remember? All of that stuff we used to do before it got social media-y and less ‘call me and I’ll be there’-ish.
Now, returning to the past.
Of reaching out to just a handful of people, one person at a time, and inviting them to just exactly the kinds of things that DK’s Akira Morita and Dipika Kohli together feel would make sense. For them. In very small circles we can get more deep and more conversational, more quickly. I prefer small scales, really. Small is lovely. You have a good time. You’re making something, together, on the spot, and you’re getting to participate more when there are fewer people. As a host, I like it this way. Super opt-in. Relaxed. Low-key.
Taking the concepts, learning, gatherings, and growth and creating more moments for others to connect in remarkable ways. The shape of which we call S P A C E. Installations like today remind us not to quit. Not yet.
Because there is still learning.
And the learning is good.
Special thanks to Cafe Onni and guests today at Hei Kesä.
TERVETULOA viettämään aikaa, juttelemaan, valmistamaan oma uniikki zine. Aikuiset ja yli 6v. Hinta 10€, lapset ilmaiseksi. Sis materiaalit, kahvin ja leivoksen. Facebook: Hei Kesä.
CAFE ONNI and Design Kompany jointly host ‘Hei Kesä’ on Saturday, 21 July. Celebrating International Zine Day as well as time talking together in real life, this is an occasion not to be missed. It combines food, friends, family, and fun.
Discover the ‘zine,’ color with us, or just enjoy the time socializing. We’ll have pastries. Coffee and tea. And a demonstration of how to make your very own 8-page ‘zine.’ For creative people of all skill levels, this event is for anyone ages 6 and up. Tickets are €10, which includes something to eat and drink, and the event is free for children 12 and under. Find the event on Facebook, here.
FESTIVAL OF THE ZINE. This event is part of a daylong celebration, a mini ‘Festival of the Zine.’ Read the full programme here.
THE LONG DAY is reminding me about old conversations, in many places, about time. Philosophical, you could say. That’s part of who DK is. It took a while to admit to it, but then, didn’t we do a TEDx talk about how there’s not that much time left? We did. Six years ago. Seems like a lifetime: I’ve been on the road for a year in Asia, then parked for four years in Cambodia, now I’m on the road again–in Scandinavia. Well, kind of on the road. Because I’ve learned that bouncing around from point to point is not as intriguing as sitting still in one spot and absorbing it more fully, I’m here for three solid months in the middle of northern Finland. Lapland is over yonder, there is talk of reindeer meat, or reindeer hitting your windshield, and how nice it is to see the sun. Lots of talk on the talk radio about summer. Festivities and the cheery feeling of it; the sun not going away, the lakes reflecting all of it, with a mesmerizing shade of light grey twinged with blue. Chillin’. I noticed it’s a quiet day, today, here. I saw some people getting their cameras out and taking pictures of the river. I saw some others getting gas and going in for a bite to eat–the hamburger place, the pizzeria, the cafe where I’ll be co-hosting a zine popup this month. Buncha stuff. There are people who come through this town because it’s a stop on the motorway from Oulu to Helsinki, a major throughline, though the road is only two lanes and looks like it’s any countryside road, to me anyway, in the smaller counties of North Carolina. One of my many homes. That’s another thing, though. That’s drift. Today, time.
Slow down to see now
SLOWING. That’s the topic, these days, here. Slowing down to sense. Slowing down to see. Slowing down to feel. Letting things catch up… feeling the ambient awarenesses that have been percolating for years, but haven’t had time to precipitate out into the here and right-in-front-of-you, because… time. ‘The way we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives,’ it has been said, and many times, and I am thinking about my friends who will say, ‘Yes, I wanted to, but I didn’t have time.’ I’m thinking of DB in Seattle, who, in his drawing class for freshman and sophomores, would make a comment about how texting and drawing nude models just isn’t a good idea, that you don’t need to multitask here, that, ‘we all have the same amount of time.’ Priorities are the thing to focus on, instead of how to make more time. How to do the right things, instead of just doing things. How to… well, wait. I’m turning into one of those productivity blogs. I don’t meant to do that. But I do agree with PT who said, ‘Relentlessly prune bullshit.’ You just have to, if if you want to move the ball further down the playing field, towards the end zones that you decide are worth pursuing. You can’t just… wait for things to happen, nor can you… wish for more time. All of these thoughts are trickling in and out of the S P A C E of spaces where I’m conversing with some of you, some new people here in Finland, too. And learning. Always, always curious. Wanting to know more. Where does the time go? What did we do with it? Is it important to plan? What are the benefits of not-planning? And: what will I do with my days, while I live? This is the question, ultimately, that the TEDx talk landed up, asking about. What will be your legacy?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I was aiming to go up there and make a long philosophical statement about how people are being busied into being busy and forgetting how to slow down, notice now, and be present and aware of what it is they actually want their lives to be about. What is the story your life will spell? (DK always asked this of our clients, and then, added to it, with: How can you design for that?) Not that popular a topic. Thinking about the life you want to live and what you can do to make it happen? That’s big-picture stuff. That takes overarching grand views on things and letting some time go by so as to reflect. But who has time for that? The day to day details of getting things done are at hand. And that’s why, really, honestly, the pervasiveness of the ‘to-do’-ers and their insistence that making time is more important than making artful connexion and meaningful moments of their time is probably why I decided to come here to focus on ‘Slow Moment.’ It’s a long story. It’s going to have to be shortened, though, because ‘Slow Moment’ will be an 8-page zine. That’s later, though. Now, I’m thinking about a time I sat on a terrace and talked with someone I hadn’t seen for more than a decade, about what we did with our lives, in the interim.
‘The time,’ he said. ‘The time does not come back.’
I wonder if he remembers it as clearly as I do.
YES, IT WAS DIRECT, and sort of out of nowhere. ‘The time does not come back,’ he said. Did I detect regret? Resentment?
I remember looking out over the plates and chairs and people who were talking together in groups of two or four, drinking their wine and beers and partaking of desserts and salads, and the sun was setting, and it set, and we were still talking, and I remember this clearly, about that line, ‘The time does not come back.’ Of course, I’d wanted to say, and then add something about reversible time and physics and multiverses and some theory–but it wasn’t that kind of a party.
Time. Not reversing. But that’s why we have to notice it, right? Be here now. All that stuff. Notice it and do the things that feel good, make the work that matters–to us. It’s relative, after all. Why follow someone else’s prescription for ‘what counts’ and ‘what matters?’ A job is really you just selling your time. What is the work that matters to you? Are you doing that? What is the legacy you want to leave?
I’d wanted to ask such questions, of course. I always do. Was there something you had wanted to do with it that you didn’t? (This is mostly what I had wanted to ask, but couldn’t, of course. Acquaintanceship is different from friendship, after all.)
We parted. The year ended. The next one came. This is life. This is the cycle. This is how things go. Probably won’t ever see one another again, either. Something about feeling… a sense of distance. At not knowing why the action and initiative weren’t there. I felt he had regrets, but they weren’t faced on, not looked at, not examined, or questioned. Self-awareness of this was missing, too. There was some weird sense that there was a lacks somehow. A lack that could not be felt, or seen, until another day, and time, which, I got the feeling, would not come.
Because making the time and space to reflect isn’t for everyone. Those who do come out, I think, with a purpose to their life that goes beyond ticking boxes of filling in lines or paying bills. Those who are able to assess themselves clearly can do… living. Yes. Do living. Do it. Without trying so hard to conform to someone else’s pictures of ‘success’. Without avoiding looking in the mirror, and asking the hard questions, ‘Is this for me? Am I living the life I want? Am I being true to myself?’ So many people skip this. Well, of course. It’s hard.
But I think about these things a lot. I look for others who do, too. I count those people amongst my friendship circles. I listen for the curious, the ones who are saying, ‘There’s got to be more. Help me think about this.’
‘Did you see Waiting for Godot?’ I’ll ask them. ‘Or read the play?’
‘Beckett. Read it. Then let’s talk more.’
Philosophically, these kinds of existential queries—what is the point of it? what are we doing with our time? where is the meaning?–are the ones that we thinky-thinky types like to dwell on. (Sometimes too much. Acknowledged.)
More philosophy and so on, ahead this month in ‘Slow Moment.’ Be a part of it, when you join us in these places in S P A C E: ‘Slow Moment’ the salon, and ‘Slow Moment’ the zine.
The way we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Shouldn’t we be intentional about the things we choose to focus on? And how we spend our time? Let’s explore.
For the ‘Book of Time,’ we are inviting a handful of guests from our past programmes to consider these kinds of questions: ‘What do you do with your time? What is time? Can time expand? What is the slow moment? What about infinite time? Can we tap that, can we connect with it?’ Hosted by Design Kompany’s Dipika Kohli, whose TEDx is called ‘There’s Not That Much Time Left.’ (Just google it. If the story resonates, consider applying for this programme.)
Open to new applicants only, or those invited personally by a member of S P A C E. Apply through the form below. Note: Don’t ask us what you will get from this, because what we will get will be what each of us put in. The conversations emerge week to week. If you need more description about the value of emergence, check out some sites related to ‘innovation,’ serendipity, and chance encounters. Discover what it is that making space can do for the quality of the ideas you put into practice during your work.
Let’s explore. Let’s make 20 minutes of time available each week for 12 weeks, to discover these things, together. No previous experience necessary.
Max 8. USD $10/week x 12 weeks. Merit-based scholarships available to those who qualify. Ask us in the application if that’s something of interest to you.
FOR A LONG TIME I used to be like most of the people I know who claim to want to write. I mean, I wanted to get picked up.
By some kind of an agent, or a publishing house.
Then, get toured around the world.
Splashy dinners, press conferences, lots and lots of people asking me about my stories… all admiringly but of course asking the same repeating questions.
Got in the way of that.
Not because of drive… I had a lot of drive, back then. I guess I’m a Gen X slacker in other ways, but I do like publishing and I will do it, and blogging is a kind of publishing, and even though I haven’t been writing here very much for the last three years it doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing and sharing.
Some of the time I wrote for newspapers, first freelance and then as a staffer. Then I got into magazine stuff. Then I decided it wasn’t for me, that piecewise thing you have to do (read: pitching) and not experimenting with the medium, which is way, way more fun. Thanks to a couple of internet friends scattered in timezones near and far, I’m able to connect more deeply through writing (but only with some people, of course. You can’t share intimately with everyone.) Maybe this is why I don’t care so much about getting famous, now. It just doesn’t matter. What matters is hanging out. The quality of the conversations. The people I meet, what we discover together, what we learn from each other. How we grow.
SO YES. IT IS TRUE.
I had this thought about fame, though. A lot, probably, through most of my early twenties. Back then, mostly in those big cities with yellow stuff pasted onto walls around subways, I picked up flyers about going to get my correspondence writing course started, and then, I left them behind. I don’t know why.
Someone I just met said, it’s human to want to be famous. I’m not convinced that this is so true, though. I think it’s narcissistic, sure. And yeah, the Western cultures have a thing about that. But living in Asia for three years (and counting) will do something to you. Will make you think, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Who cares?’
Next steps: writing and publishing
THINGS NOW ARE INCREDIBLY NEW, and the old-school model is still nagging at the artists. Why is this?
Ego? Who cares if it’s ‘popular?’
JS wrote: ‘Do what moves you.’ Something about pining for fame… (JS is famous, by the way)… as much as this is so normal if you grow up in a place where fame is worshipped,… But well, something about the pursuit of #1, and that alone, seemed dodgy, to me. Who decides on the criteria, for one? What do you consider to be interesting, intriguing, alluring, mysterious? Because most likely, it’s not the stuff that’s going to top the pop charts. Well, at least, if you’re like me. I’m into other things. Philosophical stuff, going to the edges (literally, sometimes), looking out and over, maybe even taking a jump (literally, again. Like in India’s Himachal Pradesh, at Manali.) Not saying you have to do it this way or that way. Paying attention to the way, though. That’s important. Because along the way you’ll find the things that add to your story, the Book of You. Voicefinding is underrated, you know. Taking time is, too. Discovering, messing up, finding your way, the way again, there it is. Why are the Westerners so outcome-focused? I noticed in recent weeks that I had this one outcome in mind about a thing, and it didn’t go exactly as I had pictured, and on the one hand I was so disappointed I teared up a bit, but on the other, we had something else in its place. We had a different kind of thing. Another way. And it was fine; in its own way, it was beautiful all exactly as it stood, unjudged and unexpected. Is that the thing, then? Letting things happen?
Finding one’s voice, I felt, seemed like the most important journey, to me, when I was watching everyone follow the pack. The herd mentality is pretty crazy. Human, of course. But we gotta watch that. What are we doing, and why? It’s necessary to pay attention to this. Intention. Even in my younger days, I knew that to experience life would be more important, than to try to make sense of what had happened, so far. There wasn’t enough of it behind me. I wanted to go. See. Learn, make, and do. Of course people said that was stupid. These were the people who later went into investment banking and got houses that are now ‘underwater.’ They also told me that I was a ‘free spirit’ and wasn’t that just lucky-for-me, but twenty years later they are still looking for a weekend off to ‘go and write my novel.’ Yeah. A weekend. F.
Traveling opened it up, though, got me away from those people and their poisonous don’t-can’t thinking. (Total opposite of N+1. More about that in a bit.) First job I got enough to save some to start this habit. That’s how I got traveling. To East Asia. Southeast Asia, South Asia. Europe, too, of course. Moved there, even. Started things out. Made it all up as we went along. Slowly, surely. One step at a time. It became a kind of method, a sort of dance. Go, see. Suss. Learn, then make the next decision. You know, the more I think about it, the more this isn’t just about a way of life that has nothing to do with wanting the praises and accolades that, I think, many many people that I would have known when I was, say, yeah, twenty-three, would have said they wanted. The thing is, I met a lot of those people, along the way. People who had made it. Were on the book tours. Were traveling the world, on other people’s dimes. But they didn’t have the one thing that I had, in so many giant waves and troves and uncertain amounts, seemingly indefinitely. They didn’t have time.