Sunday Morsel 7: for my son

…If there were a “mistake,” we would work on it until it became intentional. Basically, there were no mistakes and no erasers. I discovered the relationship between freedom and fear.

Throughout the entire process, I was interested in my son’s ideas, which I knew would be fresh and radical, due to his inexperience. Not limited by prior knowledge, he would say things that I would not even have allowed myself to think. Working with a young, growing person showed me how we limit ourselves as we get more experienced. I began to remember things I had once known and ways I used to be. I rediscovered, in him, the deep intelligence of innocence. “Beginner’s mind” believes that anything imaginable is possible. Shunryu Suzuki wrote in Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

“Dad, can my bedroom be like a treehouse? Dad, can the entire front wall of the room be glass and slide out of the way so I am sleeping out of doors? Dad, can we put a big opening in the roof and make a big telescope so I can see the stars at night when I am lying down, like the stars of my birthday constellation? Dad, can we make the concrete walls look like your photographs of the desert from the airplane?”

My first thought was always “that’s not possible,” but I would keep it to myself and, with some patience and drawing, I discovered that it was possible to accomplish what he suggested. Next, I would have to confront my ego, realizing once again that these were his ideas and I wanted them to be mine. How absurd was my need to be first and original? Who had given me that imprint? What better teacher to have and what better time to let go? Things began to change for me. I learned a lot from him and still do. He made me a better teacher.

from Freedom and Structure in Verona and Los Angeles by Michael Rotondi, FAIA