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The Terror of Time

I had this reading in my design studio discussing the relationship between atmosphere, compassion and embodied experience in architecture. The reading itself is a piece of an interview with Juhani Pallasmaa, a Finnish architect, phenomenologist, and academia, whose works and writings are famous for his mediation between experience, craft, and materials.

There is his statement in the article that struck me in the head: "The worst thing you can do to yourself is to start planning your life."

This somehow reminds me of a chat that I had with a good friend of mine who is currently pursuing on what she wants to actually do with her life, and she told me one great valuable lesson about the pace of our life. She told me that we currently are living a life in which speed has predominantly affected the way we perceive and gain access to anything we want. This has been influencing our mindset about time, which everything has to be done in a quick and efficient manner, aka instant. However, she added, there is one thing that we often fail to understand: process.

We often depreciate process and isolate ourselves in the middle of a certain path that our society and culture has constructed. We rarely give ourselves the time to rest and understand ourselves better. We rarely give ourselves the time to hone our human ability to empathise and imagine.

Social media and news have influenced the way we see successful people, and we simply want to be like them. Of course, everyone wants to be successful. But we seldom see the tears behind every happy ending that we hear. Beautiful stories are things that are mostly shown, not really the struggle behind it.

This relates back to the article, in which Pallasmaa teaches us to enjoy every uncertainty in our lives and be grateful for every surprise that we encounter. He also added that we need to slow down so we have time to condense thought and feeling, to fully understand and know yourself.

"The worst thing you can do to yourself is to start planning your life."

Pallasmaa's statement is somehow very interesting and contradictory to what I've been perceiving from talks and stories. I'm still processing of what he truly meant by that, and instead, I'd rather propose something to be in between. Planning for your future is not bad. It is great to keep you aware and understand what you're doing right now. But, never make it solid as the future is uncertain and no one knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Thus, I believe it's better to always keep the options open and have the ability to adapt to the situation. Let the uncertainty surprises you.

"In architecture, of course, in many ways one needs the capacity to make immediate judgments and decisions, based on certain expertise. Yet I think it is even more important for a creative person to delay decisions and tolerate the state of uncertainty as long as possible."

Even though the literature mainly talks about architecture, there are some points that can be applicable to general readers. The following link will drive you to the vistas of understanding and enjoying your life process, and a good start if you are interested in architecture as well.


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