As we dive into the frenzy of the December holidays, it seems a fitting time to finally get the pictures up from Enough, the event we took part in this fall at Shed and organized by TheCaliforniaProject. It’s so easy to get caught up in a frenzy of consumption at this time of year. Looking back at Enough puts it all on pause, if just for a minute.
Enough marked the end of Shed’s month-long celebration of Japan and was a day of activities aimed at getting visitors into the state of ‘beginners mind’. Most closely associated with the teachings of Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki, founder of the first Buddhist monastery outside Asia (Tassajara) and author of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, the concept of beginnner’s mind is similar to the idea of mindfulness: Slowing down, centering, taking in your surroundings without preconceptions and using all your senses. It’s the approach we take the first time we learn or do something new, hence Shunryu describing this state ‘beginners’ mind. The title Enough referred to the Japanese translation of the word as ‘sufficient’ and ‘plenty’, a state you feel whenever you approach any situation with the openness of beginner’s mind.
The brainstorm of TheCaliforniaProject founder Brent Haas, his aim with the event was to bring a bit of his Zen practice to an audience outside the temple walls. Haas enlisted several friends from the San Francisco Zen Center Center (Marcia Lieberman, Nancy Petrin, and Tim Kroll) to lead workshops, talks and other interactive events each exploring different ways into beginner’s mind. Author, editor and Remodelista co-founder Sarah Lonsdale also lent her down-to-earth but discerning eye to the day’s events with a mini-exhibit on thoughtful consumption. Kiddieup set up out back with drop-in origami and two sessions of silent tea for the kids.
We had a great time out back. For one—silent tea never fails amaze. Rambunctious kids slowing down and having tea in silence?!?! (If only it was replicable at the weeknight dinner table.)
-Plain, medium squares of paper are best for beginners. They fold crisply and patterns don’t get in the way of intricate folds. See link below for our favorite paper option.
-Orientation is key to success. Keep the paper in the direction you see in the directions so that the top of your origami piece is the same as the top in the directions, etc.
-A few people who had lived in Japan and learned origami there stopped by to origami with us. They impressed upon us the importance of running your finger along each fold to get a good, strong crease. You can achieve a crease in other, less considered ways, but the time-honored motion of running the index finger along the paper honors the tradition.
We used Densho Origami book as our guide and had the kids start with the easiest folds, the Tulip, Cat and Dog. Of course, they wanted to dive right into harder ones (“Folded paper, how hard can it be?!”) but quickly realized origami takes skill and careful attention. House and Piano were surprise huge hits. Cup was surprisingly easy and really satisfying. The big challenge was Balloon, a tough one that gave a sense of accomplishment in 3-dimensional expansion, who cares about the finesse of the edges.