When life becomes hectic and our mental capacities are stretched thin, we are often told to corral our thoughts, quiet our minds, and retrieve a sense of inner peace. Is it ever really possible to silence our brains during our waking hours?
In this day and age, the common adage is to surround yourself with people you admire. Become their friend, learn their ways, and maybe someday transform into a person as amazing as them. But are we losing out by no longer associating with the people who are right beside us?
In the noises of everyday life, the sounds that our feet make as they contact the floor or ground beneath us are easily lost. What can the sounds of our footsteps remind us of?
Human nature may be trained to banish blank spaces from our existence, but perhaps there’s more to learn from the emptiness in our lives.
Do you find yourself dragging your body out of bed and into work every morning? We suggest a handful of ways to dispel the ho-hum of your weekday morning schedule and to inject some cheer into your first few waking hours.
California’s coastline is a wealth of biodiversity. This past weekend, we took a journey along its length and walked away with an unparalleled experience for the senses.
When a city’s roots trace back centuries, how do modern citizens protect the old and welcome the new?
As a culture, we’ve readily embraced big data and all of the ways it makes our lives easier. But we could be gaining less than we imagine in this relationship. Are we losing pieces of our humanity?
We explore the give-a-little, take-a-little relationship between humans and plants.
So many of the spaces that surround us are given names. These names often dictate the use of a space and signal the right of ownership. His home, her office, the park. What are we really aiming to achieve here?
We consider what it means to make a home and why humans feel such a strong affinity for the places in which they live.
While some people are driven to explore as many different places as possible in a single moment of time, I prefer to explore a single place in as many different moments of time as I can. How else can you see transformation occur?
Like many before us, we take an opportunity to consider the moon: her beauty, her symbolism, and her eternal presence.
Imagination and dreams are powerful things. They let us explore better scenarios, ideal futures, improved lives. What happens when our minds cease to wander?
For centuries, excellent etiquette and social behavior have been valued as a mark of good character, dictating how we act in response to a myriad of situations. We are asked to hide our true colors in order to appear pleasantly agreeable, and to don a set of prescribed traits to obtain success. But what does having the perfect personality actually achieve?
An ode to imagination, unfettered by reality and judgement, free to roam the endless halls of wonder: We think reality needs to make way for imagination every once in awhile to keep our lives interesting.
Many of us know what it is like to own too many things: they stuff our closets, overfill our cupboards, and lurk in the corners of our rooms, discarded and forgotten. While it can be tempting to toss them out to clear up some much-needed space, an argument can also be made for going through our neglected belongings and returning them to regular use in our lives.
If there is one word to categorize the world we live in today, it’s “distraction”. It’s the antithesis of all attempts to be thoughtful and considered. But for many of us, it’s important not to lose site of our goals and intentions.
As terrestrial beings, our movements are restricted to the ground, unless we climb a tree or mountain or dive into the ocean depths. What would life be like if our movements through the air and sea were uninhibited and free?
In an era where our relationship with nature is far from certain, where do we stand? News and politics are very adamant about the story of people first, nature second. Science is just as eager to convince us of the opposite. What about the everyday folk, people like you and me?
Cozy (adjective). 1. Enjoying or affording warmth and ease. 2. Marked by or providing contentment or comfort. 3. Marked by the intimacy of the family or a close group. – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Numbers are pervasive in our world. Whether we see their physical forms or simply move through the results of calculations and forecasting, there’s no escaping them. But have we become too dependent on them?
As humans, we measure time in seconds, minutes, hours, and days. But for creatures who can live thousands of years or only a few days, how do they perceive time’s passing?
Our lives are mercilessly filled with the cacophony of hustle and bustle. When I need to get away from it all, I like to take a break by aiming my eyes upward, towards a different world, one that exists in the canopies just above my head.
An ode to the special relationship that humans have with water.
During my last visit to the beach, I came upon some impressive flocks of birds. There were some small, some large—both the birds and the great groups they huddled in. White, greys, black, tan, and little specks of orange clustered together and flitted about.
What makes a houseplant happy? We share a few stories and lessons of our own from a few years of growing up with our leaf-bearing friends.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a fascination with the ocean. I’m not sure exactly what draws me to it. But seeing it always leaves me feeling exhilarated and at peace at the same time. Regardless of the time of day, regardless of the weather—I could watch it for hours.
How do we hold on to the delight that we felt during those days when we were out exploring, discovering, and learning something new?
It’s the million dollar question—how do we predict the future? We work tirelessly to understand what the future holds, dedicating our lives towards something we can’t even see. Why are we so enamored with the future?
Some of nature’s best gifts to us really do grow on trees: the most succulent oranges, the most fragrant almonds, or the juiciest peaches. Here, we take a few moments to consider the bounty of fruits and vegetables that we might eat every day, but which are delectable and life-giving in more ways than one.
I am one person. A single entity in a sea of entities. If I were to depart my body for a moment and rise into the air, up and up and up, and then look down at my physical form from this new vantage point…I’d be a speck indistinguishable from the masses.
As darkness falls and the last of the sun’s light begins to fade, a particular stillness sets in, inviting us to take a moment to contemplate the beauty of dusk.
Light. It enables us to see, but we cannot see it. We can only observe its effects on the world around us. It’s the bright edge amidst darkened angles, the dappled shadows, the reflected field of white.
We often notice patterns as pleasingly symmetrical decorations: the ornamentation on the rim of a plate, perhaps, or a tiled border in a repeating motif on the floor. However, patterns are easily found just about anywhere, even with just a little bit of searching.
Even the most boring of weeks has its charming points. To remind myself of life’s simple joys, I chronicled the mundane elements of one week from my life.
When you think of those who shaped your childhood, who do you remember? In this post, we remember a few memories with those who tended and nurtured us during life’s most formative years.
There’s something to be said for taking the crooked paths. They offer the traveller no choice but to surrender control and foresight. In return, they offer discovery, spontaneity, and—often—charm. These are the journeys worth celebrating.
Although rocks and stones are ubiquitous no matter your geographic location, the forces and energies created by nature and human beings alike shape stones into objects of admiration. Here, we take a closer look at a few of the forms in which stone attracts our attention.
Day in, day out. We’re running from one place to another, one task to another, always chasing down work that needs to get done. If we don’t forcibly pull ourselves away, we may never escape its mad grip. We occasionally need to step away and regain our perspective.
Every year, the seasons change, and we adjust with them. But how does a living creature sense the cycling of the seasons? How do we predict the shifts in the weather, the light, and the air?
Nurturing plants—regardless of shape, type, color, or size—can be a fulfilling experience. Beyond the generous displays of growth and beauty, we’re given a chance to form a special bond with nature that surrounds us.
When we travel to a new city or country, we are surrounded by its residents who have made this place their home. Sometimes, simply looking out of the window can reveal a little bit about what it’s like to live in their world.
Amid this month of resolutions and frenzied change, we encourage you to stop for a moment, hunker down, and get eye-to-eye with this humble green lifeform. We think it has a lot to teach us.
As December yields to January and the new year ahead, we are often swept away by the flurry of transition, the dynamics of change, and the promise of a blank slate. Another way to hit reset? A trip through Mother Nature’s gardens. Here, we extend an invitation to enjoy the delights of a brief venture outdoors, from babbling brooks to rolling hillsides.
The holidays can be a stressful time. Amid all of the festivities, some will get overwhelmed by all of the faces and places; others will be missing loved ones who they will not celebrate this year. Here’s a reminder to take a little time and recenter yourself when you need it.
With the arrival of the winter holidays in many countries, scattered families reconvene and old schoolmates reunite, if only for a brief few days. Instead of seeking new experiences, we return to familiar faces, nostalgic past times, and re-told stories of the recent past.
As the heat of the summer sun bids us farewell, the fiery colors of autumn leaves take its place to provide a whole new type of warmth.
A short reflection on the benefits of losing time.
Fact and opinion. Evidence and analysis. Observation and conclusion. Whatever we call these concepts, we put them to use constantly. Oftentimes, the two are used interchangeably. What are the dangers of doing so, and why do they happen?
One can learn much about a person by the objects he or she crafts and the ideas he or she cultivates. Whether we are investigating the way of life of the inhabitants of ancient Greece or discovering the life story behind the acquaintance sitting across the table, careful observation of how and why they interact with and respond to their surroundings can elucidate how their social milieu has shaped them.
After the rain comes the rainbow. And after the rainbow…life. In the real world, the rainbow is not the ending. It is simply a moment in time, one that follows the rain but also one that precedes more events, more decisions, more challenges. If the rainbow inspires happiness, can we bring that happiness along with us to inspire the next steps of our journey?
We spend a lot of time talking about homes, the permeating ambiance, the treasured knick-knacks, and the inviting coziness. However, a home is defined not just by the residents and their layers of memories, but also by the physical walls and windows that delineate the space. Although we often treat these concrete elements as invisible, blank skeletons that hold up the pieces of our lives, the external structures of a house, apartment, or studio are patient, steadfast companions to everyday life.
Ah, the humble corner. It can be found seemingly anywhere and everywhere. Handfuls of them surround us, quite literally, at every turn. Is there a meaning to the omnipresence?
Pausing to rest and savor the moment is important for recharging and recalibrating our minds and our moods. But when, exactly, was the first time you were taught to stop and smell the roses? Here, a story about one of the first times I was told to take in my surroundings alone.
This is a chronicle of the mingling of journeys; how, walking up and down the city blocks, snippets of voices ebb and flow; how, as ambient noise gains its voice, the personality of a city’s roads is revealed.
We spend a lot of time around strangers: on our commute, at the store, waiting for a friend on the street corner. While strangers rarely speak or touch, merely observing a stranger’s gestures and interactions can help us to redefine our own interactions with our closest friends and family.
The forgotten message—that which people either never noticed or no longer notice with the passage of time. Do objects still hold messages if (almost) no one reads them? If there is no longer a reader, is there no longer a meaning to the letters and words? Has the message lost its purpose?
Messages come in many forms: handwritten or typed, long or short, casual or elegant. What happens when a message is written without a specific person in mind? Who is meant to read it? We muse on the delight and nostalgia of coming across an unexpected note.
Our society is run by the concept of money. We work for money; we take leisure by spending money. We make judgements based on monetary value. With the pervasiveness of this disturbing trend, we must take a step back and examine the faults of such behavior.
Traveling is about more than the dream destination. The way we transport ourselves during our travels provides the perfect opportunity to engage our thoughts in idle wondering about the scenes that drift past the car or train window.
A walk in the countryside after lunch. You walk and walk along a path flanked by green fields of still unripe wheat, creating a slightly monotonous view. In the distance you notice a small vibrant spot of color. As you approach, you see something is going on. The feeling that you are in front of a canvas is growing. If looking at a canvas at a museum wall feels like being in front of a window to another world or mind, this feels like a frameless window at a random place. Like a casual layer of order in the middle of randomness. A meta-window – nature inside nature – gracefully displayed.
A small, fine line weaves across the sidewalk. So mundane, and quite easy to overlook, yet filled with unspoken intent.
To many of us, the sight of a creek or river is such a common one that we often forget that they’re there. However, the ties that connect these moving bodies of water to the people who thrive from their proximity are always essential.
Or, how to grow strong, be humble, and live a life of wisdom.
Gastronomical pleasure can be derived from the well-balanced flavors and textures of an excellent dish, and sometimes more so from the memories associated with the last time you ate it. Here, we remember a few fond childhood memories of cooking with family.
Reflecting on the childhood appeal of playgrounds, despite the inevitable bumps and bruises.
Time is a fickle thing. It flies, it crawls, it stretches; it even disappears. It can be broken into pieces—“sometimes”; repeat itself—“time and time again”; stretch on infinitely—“all the time”. How does it do that?
It’s amazing how terribly brief the most precious moments in life are. Like a flower blooming in a tree, reaching a beauty and delicateness peak, and then quickly decaying. Fortunately, after a good moment is gone, another one will follow at a different place and time, with the same or different people, or alone. But maybe, the fact that we know that moment won’t last is something that makes us appreciate it more.
Gratitude and appreciation, for both your surroundings and yourself, are vital to an optimistic view of life. In this last post in the series, we consider the circumstances in which we feel thankful, as well as how to find and nurture feelings of gratefulness.
One defining characteristic of human beings is the ability to mirror the emotions of our neighbors and sympathize with their happiness or plight. Here, we consider how empathy shapes our mindsets, whether we are thinking about work or play.
Allowing a moment of curiosity in your everyday comings and goings can have a small, but important, effect on how you perceive the events of the day. Here, we explore curiosity, investigating the social pressures that cause us to hide our questions and the reasons we benefit from asking them.
Endings can be sad and lonely affairs, but they are also opportunities to look forward to new beginnings. We follow the fading light to see what it reveals.
Rainfall was heavy at the end of this year. Seeing so many bright and serene surfaces glinting back at me inspired me to do a little of my own reflecting.
The weather and temperature can have a strong effect on our moods and behavior. With the approach of winter, how do our habits and patterns change to adapt to the cooler chill?
Fog clouds the landscape, obscures the vision, and hides the beauty that was visible just yesterday. We took one recent foggy day as an opportunity to forget about what we wanted to see, and instead enjoy the fleeting shapes that rose before our eyes.
The act of tending to a being other than ourselves can provide a gentle reminder to listen not only to the needs of the things around us, but also to the needs of our bodies and minds.
An unusual rain blew through the region last weekend. Its strange timing was oddly soothing amidst the recent hustle and bustle. Caught by surprise, I found myself observing details that I usually overlook.
The benefits of taking the time to travel without a map every once in awhile.
Observing the sights and sounds of the daily morning walk.
A place becomes a very different creature when the timing is right. Even those with world-famous qualities and lore—like San Francisco’s Financial District—have a little-known and hidden side.
Searching for treasures on the beach is like hunting for the last vestiges of summer, presenting you with small fragments that remind you of the sand and the sun, long after the warmest season has departed.
Our urban spaces rise from land that rarely resembles its original nature. Sometimes, though, the smallest hint of the landscape makes an appearance, and often in some strange places.
Some mornings are mad rushes to make it out the door, while others are leisurely with time to think and reflect. What mornings habits do you follow, no matter how frantic the pace? We ask some friends for their answers.
Dots, dashes, lines, shapes—there are lots of strange markings hiding on the streets of San Francisco. Have you heard their stories?
Explore what it is that defines a neighborhood and peek into one of America’s historic residential corners: Beacon Hill, Boston.
Every major metropolitan city has a Financial District, and San Francisco is no exception. In the third post of our series, we capture the highly gridded facades of this downtown neighborhood.
For the second post in this series, we explore the rich and stately neighborhoods that follow San Francisco’s northern coast—Presidio Heights, Laurel Heights, and Pacific Heights.
Within urban spaces, grids can be found almost anywhere. In this series, we take a look at where these grids are and explore how they differ in expression between neighborhoods. Up first: San Francisco’s Chinatown.
A brief history of art collections throughout the ages, and a reflection on the lives of historical and cultural objects.
There is an undeniable pull to objects of our past—after history has given them significance, after they’ve gained the patina of nostalgia. How does this connection form? Can the qualities that give an object beauty and appreciation simply not exist until after time does its work?
Living things experience a constant flow of movement through space and time. Is it possible to remain still, even for a moment?
This past weekend, I visited one edge of the world. It wasn’t really that far of a journey. I’ve always lived near it and now live closer to it than I’ve ever been. I can actually see it from my bedroom window on the clear days. But I decided I wanted to know it better. So I packed a few things, hopped on a train, and went exploring along the edge of the world.
Telephone poles and wires are relics of the recent past, tilted and neglected like figures trying to stay out of the way of the stream of modern, wireless communication. However, they are also a persevering reminder of the physical, tangible connection between two people engaged in conversation.
The marks of time surround us. A line on paper, a texture on wood, a trace of dust on the surface, a scattering of dirt on the road. What stories and wisdom do they have to tell us?
Reflections on the possibilities of an unoccupied room, and why we feel the urge to determine what happened when we were out.
Everyday objects become strange, intriguing canvases for a fleeting moment.
A reflection on the disappearance of the handwritten note, and an appreciation for the simple tools involved in letter and card writing.
The city by the bay enjoys dazzling displays of green during the first months of the year. To some, the greenery is but a pesky tangle of weeds, brought to life by the onslaught of rain. But before you set your heart on removing them from sight, take a moment to hear their stories. There’s more to them than what meets the eye.
For the modern day human, the preparation of food is an unavoidable preface to the act of eating. Cooking is, in some ways, a necessary task, a means to an end that features a nourishing and delicious meal. However, cooking is also an opportunity to appreciate the food we eat and the people we share that food with.
January is a time to celebrate the new year, new goals, and new ideas. In this spirit of fresh opportunity, we stopped to take in a more humble yet breathtaking beginning—that of the new day.
With so many priorities pulling our attention from one task to another, it is easy to leave behind the experiences and routines that nourish us as individuals. However, our smallest (and sometimes, most aimless) creations can be the ones that give us the greatest sources of delight.
We are sometimes told that joy is something to be sought out, as if we had lost it or hidden it away. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and take in what is around you. You might just remember that a source of joy has been right by your side.