Some of my great childhood memories included building and playing with Lego sets. These bright and colorful building blocks could be pieced together to build elaborate and complex objects. You could follow the provided instructions to build something straight out the box, or as I obtained more and more sets, I would combine all the pieces and let my imagination go wild. I gravitated towards the space sets, and would build large, unwieldy space ships, sometimes well designed and strong, other times absurd and would fall apart. The only limit was my imagination. Whether a design was successful or a spectacular failure, the creative time was rewarding and fun.
Science informs us that we’re nothing more than a collection of atoms and molecules derived from the Big Bang itself. Literally, we’re the dust of the stars. The elements making up your right hand may come from different stars than the ones in your left. Each built from spectacular supernovas as stars died out. Very few thoughts can emit feelings of equal amounts of humility and awe. We’re assembled from the universe itself, but have been shaped by our personality and upbringing. You could think of a Lego design, and see the universe at work. The small pieces all working together for a grand design.
Collect Your Pieces
Some Lego sets are basic and clearly designed for basic designs, others are thousands of pieces that are complex and quite technical. But I also see Lego as a metaphor for our lives. We’re a collection of multiple experiences. Like each individual piece, we build our foundations from this collection of experiences. The successes and failures each add to the larger picture. The lessons we learned from our upbringing add pieces. What we learned in school, job training, and from social interactions, all give us pieces.
Open up your imagination and mind. We all enjoy certain things and hobbies. Embrace them fully. Enjoy jogging? Get out and jog as much as you can. Discover new routes and places and hit the road. Find people who also enjoy it, and get into a running club. Enjoy reading? Get a good collection of reading material and delve right in. Love painting? The list goes on and on. When you have an opportunity to learn something new, or to do something different, try it out. You may discover new passions, but will gain experiences. You’ll gain more new pieces.
Building a Foundation
A building is only as good as it’s foundation. A poorly built foundation will undermine a building or construction project. As you learn and grow, you’re building a solid personal foundation. Gaining new experiences and knowledge will create more opportunity and flexibility. Think of a worker who’s an expert at building one thing. However, technology changes and renders this one thing obsolete. This worker designed the best yoke system for horse and buggies, and that was all he learned because throughout his life, there was no pressing need to learn something different. Then the day of the automobile arrived, and his expertise was no longer relevant. It’s always a good idea to be a leading expert on a job function, but keep adding to your toolkit. Keep adding new and different pieces. Perhaps this individual could have remained the best yoke designer, but how much better off would he be if he built new skill sets?
Using all of these various pieces will allow for greater flexibility, yet maintaining a strong foundation. Many of my ships I built were hanging on by a thread. One critical piece was keeping it together, and with a sudden movement, there it went, breaking apart on the floor. If I put more time and effort into the foundation, the design would have held together better. A foundation will not always be seen, yet is so critical for everything it will hold. Keep working on your foundation, regardless of how much success you have now in life and profession. Life will put stresses on your life design. Keep it strong, and you’ll be prepared.
Keep Designing and Learning
Obviously, Albert Einstein was a person, but the term ‘Einstein’ is synonymous with genius. How many of us called someone “Einstein” after acing an exam or coming up with a great idea? He argued that he had no special talents, but was passionately curious. I argue that he was overly simplifying things, and he was an ideal intellect for his time and place, and forever altered the scientific community. Many of his theories continue to be proved correct, even decades after his death. It does not require high levels of physics and math to understand his passion to learn things fueled his successes.
As you collect experiences and knowledge, tap into different designs. Break out of a mold and build something new. Lego communities exist today that cater to people who build their own designs. These MOC (my own creation) groups sell pieces, designs, and add-on sets. Be passionately curious. Contemplate the new and different, and add pieces to your life set. Be creative and express yourself.
We’re always students, whether we think of it or not. Learning opportunities exist wherever we look, whenever you look for them. Fully embrace when you love to do, and learn what you’re curious about. Never shy away from something that may provide a new experience. As long as you realize your passion, life will never be completed. Regardless of a goal achieved, there will be something else, something more. There will always be something new to strive for. Passionate curiosity will translate to endless life opportunities. Keep on building.