Repertoire

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“‘Tis the morning of my life… a repeating line from the BeeGees’ popular soundtrack has stuck with me since I first listened to it almost two decades ago. And now, I hum it in my head as I walk by the Marina toward the Palace almost every Sunday morning. I love this line and especially the fact that it repeats, not because it’s the same line as the title, but because it perpetuates a sense of routine – daybreak comes and goes, but it will always come back the next morning. It’s a daily reflection. The repetition is meditative…

Windhover Contemplative Center, Aidlin Darling
(image: Anesta Iwan)

Like a song or music, meditative spaces also have these same rhythmic and repetitive qualities. I recently visited the Windhover Contemplative Center in Stanford – a beautiful space designed by Aidlin Darling. The wood slats march along the exterior of the building and help break the scale into repeating modules. The courtyard, though small, because it is central in reference to the overall building, serves as the repeated lyrical line. The design is all orthogonal, so each path, like a poetic stanza, essentially leads to another path at its perpendicular and each time, referencing back to the courtyard, that same closing line. The repetition (of the spatial elements) is meditative…

Airis, Takahiro Matsuo, Ginzo, Japan
(image: Nish Kothari)

When we zoom into how a space is constructed, we start seeing a pattern which by definition, ultimately repeats. The Japanese artist, Takahiro Matsuo, knows this best. One by one, each of the 10,000 reflective paper leaves is hand-strung; each string carefully vertically assembled so as to not distract from the floating leaves. Here, repetition is found in the making. For 27 steps, we want the making to also reflect this routine. Laces and laces of clear fishing line trace the pyramidal form. Each strand is woven by hand. From morning till nightfall, the repetitive motion is meditative…

27 Steps
(image: Nish Kothari, Anesta Iwan)

Director Blake Edwards beautifully captures a view of Fifth Avenue at the opening ofBreakfast at Tiffany’s. I remember stepping out of the hotel and walking down Fifth Avenue at 6 in the morning – it was pouring so there were even less people on the streets than usual. But if you’re familiar with New York streets, one of the advantages of Fifth Avenue is that the cross blocks are short, unlike when walking on the Streets (where the blocks are at least four times the length). Our minds register shorter blocks better than the longer ones. Like a repeated chant, this is how we understand our urban setting and measure our paths. It’s like if time were not divided into hours or days or minutes, it’s difficult to understand a passing. 27 Steps, “is short,…but the journey becomes a ritual or routine, like a daily prayer almost…” Craig Hartman remarks on a recent interview. The pace and repetition is meditative.

Repetition evokes a reminder, a daily cycle.

 

“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.”
– Jack Kornfield,  Buddha’s Little Instruction Book

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