Just a reminder now as adults we shouldn’t stop playing and having fun in life.
Once, back in 1985, I was an engineering student. For some odd reason, I wanted to design the perfect paper airplane. I did just that1. Perhaps someone else has built the same paper airplane; I don’t know. I just know that in 1985 a single design of mine summarized all the concepts which were learned over 21 years of living. The important aspect of the experience was the need to express creativity, like a poem, except within the physical folding of paper.
Understand that perfect is a relative term: as I haven’t needed to design another paper airplane, I consider it perfect for my needs.
I knew the proper design needed to have balance, for a key in flight is weight distribution. The other point was it had to be simple, no glue, no staples; I wanted the plane to be only a sheet of paper along with basic cuts.
The first thing I discovered was that a plane might work fine inside, but outside, in the winds, most designs failed. Our minds make a good initial test bench, a safe walled room makes a good stepping stone, yet, in the end, you need to throw something into the larger world to discover how well it works. I would test in my room, and then once that worked, I would take test planes to the top of a ten story building I lived within, and throw it off the roof. So for three nights I folded and folded and folded, until the third night, I came across this most elegant design.
It’s supremely simple. It has a blunt nose, so you can reuse it over and over; as it doesn’t get damaged upon a crash or slamming into the wall. If you cut wing flaps, it becomes a stunt plane. If you leave it with no flaps, it will fly smoothly like a ripple over a calm pond.
The night of testing, I took it to the roof. On the first throw, it floated, smoothly went straight, and forward, and forward, getting smaller, and smaller, never losing height. It flew until I lost it in the darkness, long out of my vision. Perhaps it is still flying today. I have this wonderful memory, of a paper airplane floating out → out → out… over Riverside Park, slowly fading into the unknown darkness of night. The moment was perfect, breathless in the unfolding of amazement as the plane flew out of sight.
Over my life, I have had similar experiences, people slowly leaving out of my life, events moving into distant points. Like my paper airplane; events, other lives, and endeavors coming into focus and then later moving out into the distance to be gone.
Funny thing, that paper airplane and I are still on the roof, and indeed it is still flying, still floating high over Riverside Park.
Moving on often means letting go, watching what was in our lives move on
to its own destiny without us.
Instructions on how to build the Tao Glider can be found on this page in the next tab.
The Tao Glider Paper Airplane
Here are the detailed plans for building the perfect Paper Airplane. I kept this plane secret from the military for years, now declassified and freely available to all children around the world for purposes of fun.
It’s important to play in life. Take some time to relax and have some fun. So enjoy Zen and the art of building paper airplanes.
Preparation: You will need a sheet of paper and a pair of scissors. The folding pattern can be found in the Paper Airplanes chapter of the Personal Tao.
Please note: remove all foreign objects, especially upset cats.
This is an original design of mine, and you can read the Paper Airplanes chapter for the story behind it.
Step 1: Fold in Half
Fold the Paper in half. Try not to get too excited like I did, as it made for a blurry picture. And if you notice uneven folding.
Step 2: Unfold and then cut.
Ok the second trickiest part, you need to cut 1/3rd of the paper along the center fold on each side of the paper.
For inspiring young engineers: please note: undercutting results in a bad balance later. Overcutting will introduce a tear into the plane. Under the extreme g-force of the liquid oxygen rockets from Step 32 will cause the paper plane to crash and burn.
Remember engineering is all about precision! Sadly, this is why I did not excel as an engineer. A Taoist approach of ehhh yep it feels about right never replaces cold hard numbers of fact. Likewise, this is why engineers don’t do as well in emotions, as emotions are never to be measured by numbers.
Step 3: Fold the upper half of the paper airplane in half again.
Fold the upper half of the paper airplane in half again.
Step 4: “Slip” and bend the “sleeves” from the upper fold into themselves.
This is the trickiest step and why this design works so well (it’s also why my engineering brilliance earned me many beers in college) Fold & Slip one side of the upper fold into the sleeve of the other side. Look carefully at the picture if this is confusing. This step is tricky because you have to make sure the overall folded sleeve fits snug and evenly. Yes, I know it looks easy, but the paper kicks and fights back in this step. It’s tempting just to slap the fold together, but the final weight here needs to be balanced, or the plane will fly crooked as a politician later if not balanced here in this step.
Also note, we are not just folding the paper over itself, the paper forms a sleeve, which you slip the other side into. This way the fold is tight.
OK, I fess up, I never even got one beer for this design.
Step 5: Take a break, relax, admire how damn good you are.
The paper airplane will now look like this. The hard part is over, get a beer, relax for a moment before we get ready for the liquid oxygen tank extensions we are about to place on this beauty.
Step 6: Fold the plane in half.
Fold paper airplane in half.
Step 7: Fold paper airplane back out and fold the wings.
Fold plane back out and fold the wings.
Step 8: Airplane Flaps are optional.
Flaps are optional. However, I recommend them as you can use the flaps to balance out the flight, in case the plane is a little off balance. Plus you can do stunts with the flaps.
Step 9: Prepare for flight.
Hire a supermodel to power up the plane. This way when the rocket tanks fail (don’t forget we were drinking back a few steps ago) we are safely in the control booth away from the whole issue. (Note, I could only afford to take a picture of her hand. Supermodels are expensive.)
Step 10: Launch Paper Airplane!
Let loose! Sun Glasses are recommended at this stage, the blast of light witnessed here almost blinded me when this thing took off.
Step 11: Activate the optional trans-dimensional gate drive installed back in step 72.
Watch the paper airplane bebop around the dimensions. Enjoy!
Most paper airplanes are not equipped with such high tech gizmos so use with care and keep an eye out for pesky aliens curious about the advanced technology.
If you enjoyed this, then take the time to wander our site.
Step by Step and Having Fun
Our home and temple we are working on just got tented to remove the termites. Now, this week we start the painting. It will be a mixture of red, orange, yellow with blue trim and red roof. It will be a 4-week project.
Another step in our life
In reality, the temple is our life, where we live in a reflection of our nature. The temple building exercise is more out of loving and exploring our life. I mean seriously why not build a temple? It isn’t anything fancy nor large. A small place to explore kindness while living day to day.
We will have fun along the way.
Being Serious? Seriously Playful?
I have been getting serious of late. I need to get me a bit less serious. Seriously, think about it: what as strange word serious is, especially for a Taoist.
One meaning of serious is: unplayful.
Yikes, that can’t be good.
As a word, seriously feels like fire, fire with a duty to burn something. Julie asked me tonight what was driving my life force and I said: duty. Wow, I sound like a Confucian almost. But not really, since when I think “duty”, it translates to mean, what drives my life is a dedication in being spiritual: this takes form in teaching release and exploring forms within empty space.
I like to think; I am concentrating on form right now, playing (with a serious “third” eye) towards what I would like to play as next. I wonder if the larva/caterpillar in the pupae is serious as it transforms, as it sets the intention to become a butterfly or a moth.
So as a Taoist I would like to define serious as the intention to take form.
I feel myself shifting to a new form, in getting serious to enable a transition from one stage of my life into the next. Its been years since I have felt this serious and I feel a focus happening in how I look at things. Julie has commented I have been working too hard. She is right, soon enough it will be the right moment to take some time off to just do nothing. But not quite yet, it’s time to focus intention to change into something new, something I haven’t experienced quite yet. To guide my shape with a serious eye, I suppose serious is a knife, use to pare down to true form, as an artist chasing down a vision… Serious can be a driving force within an act of creation also.
I haven’t been playing of late. That means with awareness if I am putting this to words, it means to be true to myself. That if I feel the urge to be serious, it means to play at being unplayful. After-all that is is the Taoist way: to do things with the flair of contradiction. 😉
What is “play at being unplayful?”
Well, to play is to poke about, to “play at being unplayful” is to dive entirely into awareness without the poking about to stir things up.
Ah ha, got it, I caught the butterfly.
Catch ya later, off to play a bit. I have to fly and play with paper airplanes.