Patricia Mou

On Self-Respect

Joan Didion explores the essence of self-respect and its influence on individual character and society. Her last sentence has stayed with me for many years: “However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.”

Contemplation: A Long Loving Look at the Real

Paired with Statement of Teaching Philosophy (poetry). We live in a world of abstractions in our head. This essay and poem reminds me that reality is the pulsing flush of the present when all sense gates are open and our conceptual filters have retreated.

Living Like Weasels

Dillard reflects on a surprising encounter with a weasel, using it to delve into themes of instinct, necessity, and the purity of living fully in the present moment. “The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting. A weasel doesn't "attack" anything; a weasel lives as he's meant to, yielding at every moment to the perfect freedom of single necessity.”

Ideas are Alive and You are Dead

This essay dives into the creative process, suggesting that ideas choose minds as habitats, thriving in environments that respect and nurture them. My takeaway is that in the meandering journey of creation, what is in our control is making our minds a more fertile, lovely, and habitable place for ideas to take root.

Three Waypoints On The Journey

Jim Dethmer succinctly outlines three stages of personal and spiritual development: improving the self, questioning the mind's beliefs to find freedom and peace, and discovering the non-existence of a fixed 'me', leading to a fuller experience of life's richness. This maps to my own journey of self-unfolding as well. The most important thing we can ask ourselves: Who am I? Who is asking? Who is aware of being aware?

A Spirituality that Transforms

Ken Wilbur describes the spiritual landscape in the United States as being awash with many “hot tubs of spirituality” - peak experiences, ecstatic states, gurus, and group identifications that feel like genuine progress, but are actually just “ego in drag”. In his words: "Authentic spirituality is revolutionary. It does not legitimize the world, it breaks the world; it does not console the world, it shatters it. And it does not render the self content, it renders it undone.”

Wake up, Grow up, Clean up, Show up

This framework emphasizes the importance of holistic development across self-transcendence, psychological development, and showing up in the world in service to the collective well-being.

A Pilgrimage for Book People

On a family's tradition of attending the Brandeis Book Sale, which illustrates a father's deep devotion to books and their influence on the author's life and career choice as a writer. A really wholesome read and a reminder that earnest people exist in spades.

The Long Path that Leads from the Making of Our World to God

Alexander’s work is deeply influential to me in my own design practice. In this essay, he explores the profound connection between architecture and spirituality, arguing that mindful architectural practices can enhance the wholeness of the Earth and connect us deeper with ourselves.

In Praise of Shadows

A reflective essay by a retired Japanese architect that delves into the Japanese aesthetics of beauty, emphasizing the importance and allure of subtlety and shadow. In a world of sterile lights and mass produced objects, this comes as a welcome reprieve.

When Jane Jacobs Took on the World

Paired with Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (film). If you don’t already know Jane Jacobs you should. Despite her lack of formal credentials, Jane significantly influenced American urban planning by challenging established theories and advocating for city diversity, neighborhood value, and mixed-use development. However, the idea I find most compelling from Jacobs is that cities are biological organisms and should be designed recursively to engender organized chaos.

Join or Die (documentary)

A documentary on America’s civic unraveling seen through the journey of social scientist Robert Putnam, whose groundbreaking "Bowling Alone" research into America's decades-long decline in community connections holds answers to our democracy's present crisis.

In the Mood for Love (film)

All of Wong Kar-wai’s films are beautiful, but this one is my favorite.