Ramen Girl and the Architect #djawest :
Recently, I was interviewed by two women who had traveled far; while also daring a long, unfamiliar, narrow and winding canyon road and arriving under cover of darkness on a Montana mid-winters eve. Our nearly 2-1/2 hour conversation was unique; unique because 99% of the topic was about me rather than about project programming, budgeting, architectural styling and alike. What a rare opportunity in my profession…to be given the ears of others who wanted to learn something more about an architects mind, inspiration, the art of architecture and the importance of integrity, devotion and yes…even passion.
Our discussion was effortless as the pair presented many well thought out questions on a variety of topics; and I found myself eager to discuss every aspect of the inquiry. Towards the end of this exchange came the one query that totally caught me off guard; not that the question was complicated, nor even challenged my well informed understanding of a highly regulated profession…rather it was perhaps the most personal question I have ever been presented with.
The question was this….What is the one thing that an Architect must posses to be successful? I fell silent for a moment and carefully considered my reply; and within the first breath of my response, I felt as though my heart and soul was about to be revealed and exposed to the world. Immediately there was a rush of vulnerability and likely my final word on that which resides in the deepest part of who I am…perhaps my most profound truth. It would have been easy to deflect and talk about education, licensure or even my connection to art and love of place…but my new found friendship was pure and deserving of an honest and sincere response.
“Passion” was my reply…and to really understand the significance of this response, you need to understand what the word ‘passion’ means to me. I’ll explain….
In our culture and likely around the world, we sometimes wander without true purpose…expecting that things will just happen; even perhaps that our employer or a big company will take care of us for life. We go to school, receive our diplomas, put in our 10 to 12 hour a day…all in the absence of any true, unadulterated passion.
For example the movie Ramen Girl http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ramen_Girl is a simple metaphor about the deeper passion I speak of; emphasizing that even when all the right ingredients are plainly there and the steps have been followed precisely, the end result is still just bland soup. In a sentence, it’s about finding your passion and to pour all of it into your daily endeavor; imparting a soul the Japanese refer to as Tamashii.
In conclusion, if all else is equal…find an architect that demonstrates the ability to solve complex goals with passion; passion for you, passion for the land, passion for the profession…and in this journey or pursuit to perfection, you may, like me…discover something about your profession that is informed by the most intimate of places…your very own soul!