“SOMETIMES LIFE IS ABOUT RISKING EVERYTHING FOR A DREAM NOBODY CAN SEE BUT YOU. YOU MUST STRIVE TO FIND YOUR OWN VOICE BECAUSE THE LONGER YOU WAIT TO BEGIN, THE LESS LIKELY YOU ARE TO FIND IT AT ALL.”
BY POPULAR REQUEST: EUGENE TSSUI’S NATIONAL AND GLOBAL INTERNS/APPRENTICES, PART TWO, 1990 TO THE PRESENT. EMERYVILLE, BERKELEY, AND OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA; MOUNT SHASTA, CALIFORNIA; SHENZHEN, CHINA.
Eugene Tssui’s work environment is not for the faint-hearted and the “armchair architects” of the present day computer studio variety. This was and is a multi-dimensional experience requiring physical and mental challenge, patience, and exacting discipline. The office is both a place to create and evolve three-dimensional concepts and also a social and educational environment to test the rudiments of learning and emotional intelligence; a place to ask the questions: How do I make myself a better human being? How do I make this world a better world?
Forming in groups of 6 to 16 persons at various times of the year, young men and women from many countries, participated in an ongoing experiment of seeing how far they could go in design. Everyone explored their own process of inquiry and experiment, and there was no predetermined method, no philosophical edicts to follow, no authority to refer to, and Eugene consistently verbalized this during lunch-hour group debate and discussion. Everyone was reminded to find their own path, their own view of the world, and be able to clearly verbalize it. Apprentices were given specific tasks and encouraged to find their own way to complete that task.
At one period of time, during lunch, we wrote and read poetry, we discussed the frustrations of our work, we experimented with the art of listening, sometimes blind-folding ourselves to test our listening abilities. Sometimes we improvised music with the various musical instruments available in the office; an upright and electric piano, a saxophone, electrical and Flamenco guitar, bass guitar, trumpet, harmonicas, flute, a drum set, and percussion instruments. At times, we designed and created our own clothing, composed our own songs and sang them to each other, recited our own poetry, discussed what was really on our minds, and some of us experimented with diets, with growing our own food in the office; even making our own beer! Heated debates abounded and everyone was prodded not to hold-back!
During the first decade, every Thursday evening, we had a mandatory lecture night where apprentices would teach us about their special abilities and interests. One intern was a master tabla player from Afghanistan, another was a massage expert, another was a filmmaker, another was a world champion in paintball competition, while another was a demolition expert in the armed forces. There was no limit to the special learning we all received.
To the hundreds of individuals who grew together, in those special times spanning almost 30 years, wherever you all are in the world, I send you my deepest prayers, gratitude, and thanks… 谢谢, Gracias, Danke schon, Merci, شكرا جزيلا, Teşekkür ederim, Hvala vam, Obrigado, Dank Je, Terima kasih, Khob, tashakor. (خوب تشكر)
We all have entered the Age of Reckoning. As a human race our past thoughts and actions are now showing their consequences and we are the victims of our own arrogance as “Masters of the Universe.” We are guests on a living host and we have brutalized our host. Now, we face the dire consequences of our past actions by trying to survive on a dying organism. Our environmental scientists, world-wide, are shrouded in a dark depression because they know the truth and no one is listening. A few of us march forward living by conscience and moral fortitude, and I hope that some of you past apprentices, and others, reflect on these things and will join me in this imperative journey to restore what is left on our host- the Earth.
We must all never stop searching for answers; searching for the truth, even when the truth is horrific and shows that certain human beings are far more brutal, dominating, and destructive, than any animal could ever be.
To live a life of searching you need indefatigable courage and a readiness to be shocked and overwhelmed. This is what it means to be truly alive.