29 Sep 2015
On Building Things
"I love building things."
It's my default answer for the very general "so what do you enjoy doing?" question. I do mean it though, speaking not only as a web developer but also as someone who grew up with as many LEGO and Airfix sets my limited allowance could afford to buy me. Building things, simply for the sake of building, always felt like this balanced act of both creative romance and playfulness that we find naturally deeply satisfying. Building is exciting; it gently reminds us that we're here to serve a purpose, and this purpose can even lean towards the fun side of the equation.
Building is fun. Building should be fun.
However, nowadays I find myself a victim, deceived by my own words. A liar, accomplice of my own scumbag brain, a brain that for so long has prevented me from thinking and behaving like a child who's eager to make stuff. This scumbag brain immediately triggers six different alarms of guilt every time I even think about building something for fun, something that's not immediately going to make anyone else's life better, easier, more meaningful.
This scumbag brain is becoming a natural suppressor of fun because it tells me that building implies learning new and more exciting code, Twitter followers, Github stars, ProductHunt starlight. Any kind of building activity that can't possibly make it to my portfolio as a Web developer is naturally shut down because "it's not the most productive use of my time". Everyone else is building the next amazing thing right now.
I bought this wooden puzzle almost 8 months ago, it's not even half complete and most pieces are still in the original frame. But how to convince this scumbag brain of mine that the building act, as an obligation mindset, isn't always the best path to become more of who I want to be? We know creativity strikes when we're most curious, in that child-like mindset that generates creative playfulness. The same one that reconnects with our younger and carefree selves that once painted snowy scenes with green crayons because it looked so damn cool.
There's no guilt-free card for building for fun. And yet these should be the default; people need to make more fun things, both for ourselves and others. Don't allow the medium to dictate any constraints.
I'd like to finish this Beetle eventually. Its doors are nearly finished but the bonnet needs to be sanded down a bit so it can fit the main frame. When it happens, I'll probably paint it blue. No, green! Just like the fun snow.