Daily Crane Meditation

I decided a long time ago that I would meditate every day.

That plan failed.

Then I read a book by the Dalai Lama and one by a zen priest and listened to a meditation CD and tried to make it happen. But for some reason, I simply do not have the right frame of mind when I wake up in the morning to sit down, and just breathe for some number of minutes every day. I cannot focus. Eventually, I simply gave up.

But, as part of my 1000 cranes project, I decided that it would be a real boost if I committed to folding at least one crane a day. So then I combined that with my desire to meditate daily and formed my daily crane meditation. Now, by any objective standard, when I fold the crane in the morning I am not really meditating, but I do take the time to focus on my breathing. One benefit to the crane is that I am so familiar with the model that I do not need to think about how to fold it. I've gone beyond simple memorization of the crane to something intuitive, like how an athlete does not remember how to move, they just do. I just fold the crane without thought which frees my mind to focus on breathing.

These folding meditation sessions are probably much shorter than if I were to set aside a block of time to meditate the zen way, but they are infinitely longer than the non-sessions I had been doing. And, with a bit of luck, getting in the habit of doing the daily crane meditation every single day could pave the way for a larger commitment that is simply not an option right now.



I have been thinking a lot about origami combined with teaching mathematics. I applied for a Minnesota Math Corps job and have a minor hope that there will be some way to incorporate origami into their pre-constructed curriculum. This line of thought brought me back to Between the Folds, which is a documentary about origami and shows a spectrum of folders. One folder in particular is Miri Golan.

Miri is the Director of the Israeli Origami Center (the English version of the site seems a bit unpolished) and runs a program called Origametria (this will show you a neat video summarizing the impact of origametria in Jerusalem). The program is the newest generation of programs developed at the IOC in the area of education through origami. The basic set up is to introduce elementary school students to geometry through the use of origami. The idea is that by allowing the students to manipulate the planes on the paper they get a fuller understanding of the angles, shapes and possibilities.

One article I read mentioned Origametria being used in Jewish schools in Los Angeles. I would really like to connect with someone regarding the program and see what can be done in Minnesota.



I have been thinking a lot about anticipating the future. About how a single decision today may greatly affect everything I do from that point on. I have been thinking about it in the context of job searching. A good or bad interview can radically change where I work, who I work with, when I work and where I might look for motivation and purpose. I want to rein in the future and take control of it so that I can determine how it will unfold.

And then I had an interesting realization. On several occasions I have spontaneously decided to start folding something or other and then presented a sheet of paper and began folding. Half way through someone inevitably asks what it is that I am trying to fold. Then they look carefully at what I have done so far and try to anticipate the final product. They say it will be a duck, or a lion or a spider or a chair. They make wild assertions about what the different flaps represent. They are legs, ears, arms and wings all at the same time.

I think that the observer making wild predictions regarding my folding is like me trying to make wild predictions regarding my future.

Now, in some ways, there is no parallel here since an experienced folder can look even more carefully and likely anticipate far better than an inexperienced one. The paper is bound by certain mathematical laws and someone who is well versed in those laws can accurately predict how they can combine. But in life there is no clear guide telling me what happens if I fold my career diagonally. Or squash fold my friendships. Or pedal fold my responsibilities. It occurs to me now (as it has to many people at many points in their lives) that the future is mystery. It is outside our grasp.

What rules are there when they are often broken? A friend of mine regularly notes that if he had not flown across the country to interview for a job that he believed himself unqualified for, he would not have met any of the friends he has today. I radically different future. And one that cannot be efficiently unfolded if it turns out to be a mistake.

So I guess I may as well not try and anticipate too much. There are some large folds that are clearer. Like, do I stay in Minnesota for now? Well, that's the only one I can think of at the moment. The smaller folds will work themselves out. I'll have to address them as I meet them.


Flag Folding

The Minnesota Legislature has passed a bill establishing a proper way to fold the state flag. It still awaits the governor's signature (not that there is any reason not to sign it). The bill calls for the state motto "L'Etoile du Nord" to be clearly displayed when folded and gives instructions on how to do that.

My first reaction to the Star Tribune article was shock when I read that it took the Guardsmen "several days" to come up with the design. It likely would have taken an origami expert several minutes. Also, I am a bit disappointed in the diagram because it ignores the Akira Yoshizawa standard for indicating how to do the folds. I find it to be needlessly confusing, especially if someone is not used to folding in the first place. So basically, I wish they had taken advantage of Origami MN or OrigamiUSA, or one of a thousand resources and done a proper job that would have given origami some neat publicity. But as it is, they gave the National Guard some publicity and I suppose that's good, too (since they are the ones who have to fold it so very often).

After looking up random information regarding the flag, I discovered some interesting things. First, that the flag was haphazardly designed decades after statehood. Second, that there are 23 other states that have a similar flag (i.e. blue field with an emblem in the center). Third, that there is a movement to change the flag to a new design. Actually, there are a few different movements, and I am starting to wonder if they have a point.

I guess, if the flag were to be consistently used as an identifier from long distances, it would need to change significantly. As it is, I do not think it is used as a battle flag, but more as a symbol of loyalty by state agencies. So then it really could be anything.

[The diagram is from the Star Tribune website]