Once upon a time, in a land of desert sands there lived a man by the name of Kamal Amin. He began his life in the sands of Egypt. In mid life he moved to the sands of Arizona. As a child in Cairo he lived in his grandfather’s home, a castle more or less, with thirty two rooms. When I spoke with Kamal a few minutes ago, I meant to ask him how many bathrooms there were in that house but as we laughed about him using a bicycle to wander from room to room, the thought somehow escaped me. One can only imagine the contrast of life styles when my friend of thirty-five years first arrived in Scottsdale, Arizona, eager to begin training under the tutelage of his new mentor Frank LloydWright and assigned to live in a “tent” of his design made of scraps of materials discarded from previous “tent”, a part of the ritual of entering the culture of Taliesin life.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that Kamal had a tremendous faith in the belief that doing the next thing was for him, truly the right thing. A man now in his eighties, this is still his practice. When we were both adventurous young single men with an eye for the ladies I never quite understood this guy’s approach to life but as the years passed and ideas were exchanged our friendship grew to the point that there are now no longer any surprises. I met Kamal through a mutual friend, Linda Brock, a Scottsdale Porsche dealer at the time. On a beautiful, sunny Arizona day in 1977, Linda walked into my shop at Scottsdale and Shea which at that time was considered Far North Scottsdale and said “Hi Lee, I have someone I’d like you to meet.”
So, in the spirit of the approach of the New Year, the time for New Beginnings, marked by many as a period for re-examining one’s goals and refining and/or setting new ones, I‘d like to turn this part of the article over to Kamal as he explains the beginning of his career as one of the world’s great architects. It might interest you first to know that this chapter in his life was preceded by one in which he refused an inheritance of millions in order to stay on the path of his choosing. He had a few dollars in the bank but not much more than that. His explanation is called New Beginnings and is chapter Twenty Three of Reflections From The Shining Brow, in an amazing first person account of his internship at Taliesin in North Scottsdale. So, to paraphrase Linda Brock , “Hi everyone, I have someone I’d like you to meet………”
Remember yourself always and everywhere. – G.I. Gurdjieff.
“When I left the Taliesin Fellowship in November 1977 I did not have a dime. Nor did I have an office or a client. I borrowed $3,000 and rented an apartment in a new section of North Scottsdale. I asked an acquaintance contractor if I could rent, for $100 a month, a desk in his office where I could place a telephone and a chair so that I could sit next to the telephone. He agreed. For $1,000 I bought a wreck of a car from an acquaintance who owned a car agency.
Every morning I dressed up in a suit and a tie, drove to the office, and sat on my chair next to the telephone. No one knew I was there………………………….”
“…………………………….After two weeks of waiting by the telephone in my office, it rang one morning. I said to myself, “Good Lord, someone knows I am here.” A civilized voice on the other end of the wire introduced himself as though I should know him. I asked, “Do I know you?”
He said that he remembered hearing me talk, the year before, about energy in relation to building, and that he had liked what I had said. I did not remember the occasion but I said that I did. I further said that I remembered him, which I did not. Then he asked, “Can you come to San Antonio?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Can you come the day after tomorrow?”
I was jumping with excitement but I contained myself and said coolly, “Let me look at my schedule here for a moment.” Seconds later I said that I could.
As I descended the plane steps in San Antonio I looked hard at the waiting crowd, hoping to find a face I could recognize. Then I did. A tall, handsome youngish man, prematurely gray, stood out in the crowd. As soon as I saw him I remembered the entire occasion of our earlier acquaintance. He drove me sixty miles north to the Texas Hill Country to Kerrville, where I met a charming young woman from the Hunt family who owned a construction company. She wanted to build twenty-four homes on a property that she owned. When I returned to Phoenix a day later, I had a signed contract which kept me going while other projects came into my new office.”
Thank you Kamal.