Building Passion Takes Patience

At my non-knitting day job as an architect, I was charged to write a blog post for our firm’s blog. With yarn on the brain, I crafted a post to feature the importance of knitting in my life in the context of an architectural practice.  Our firm’s tagline was “Building Passion”. It’s looking like that blog won’t happen, so I thought I’d salvage the effort and share the post here.

Building passion takes patience.  That’s because even with the ever-quickening pace of technology, it takes Time to shape a building. From start-to-finish (schematic design thru construction), an average building project duration can last anywhere from 2 to 4 years (a gut approximation – no project calendars were consulted in this reference).

The start of a project is full of excitement and potential: we’re glad to engage with our clients, to learn the program, to sketch the possibilities. The middle of a project is full of details: we’re focused like it’s an epic puzzle we’re collectively solving. Then there’s the end… that feels like it will never come and gets dragged out for what feels like forever. With a lot of dedication and perseverance of course, our lines and models are transformed into actual places and we’ve contributed to the built fabric of a community. The culmination of effort resulting in a dedication ceremony feels like a release of delayed gratification.

All this is to say that the moments of realizing fulfillment in our work are often spread out in Time. Those 2 to 4 years equate to 730 to 1460 days!. How do we practice patience in between those days, slogging along with the big picture in mind?

We have personal projects; smaller scale projects that can offer a more frequent cycle of start-to-finish satisfaction. 

Most of my personal projects involve yarn. In the last year, I’ve knit about 20 projects and transformed approximately 10,000 yards (over 5 miles!) of yarn into garments. Knitting is not so different from building design and construction: in knitting there’s a linear element that’s manipulated to a fabric; in building there’re linear elements that shape planes. Both shape space and are intended to envelope life. Each one of my knitting projects had a process that mirrored the beginning-middle-end process of a building project, including that mostly satisfying moment of occupancy when the garment emerges to provide shelter (in the form of a hat for a head, sweater for a torso, socks for feet, etc).

We all have personal projects that can bring multiple benefits, including more frequent moments of accomplishment. One of my coworkers does personal sketches about reimagining urban development. A few others find satisfaction and solace as surfers. Another is a hardcore runner and his training is his project. Several coworkers are deep into their respective ongoing home improvement projects (which are demanding of patience in of themselves). We’re a diverse crew in what we do in our personal lives and we bring all that with us when we work on a project together.

Our personal projects offer us discipline within our control, satisfaction in new achievements, and cultivate the patience we need to work on the bigger projects at work. How about you? What personal projects bring you balance in the process of building passion?

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