Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lessons from lego



It appears that on this lovely summer evening in Auckland, my thoughts are feeling far too rebellious to be committed to any one coherent point. However I know, that within any challenge, such as this 28 days of writing project, perseverance is key. And since some of the aim of the game is pushing creativity, there is nothing to do but practice what I preach. Even when you feel like you have no ideas, just keep going anyways.

During the school holidays I visited the Auckland Art Gallery. One of the exhibits at the moment is a long table with thousands of white lego bricks. People are then encourage to play with the lego. The artists theory was that over time, whatever is built with the lego by various passers by will increase in complexity. There is no question about it when you see what has been built by all the passers by. Of course, there is an element of natural selection at play here. As people add to the table with their own contributions, it seems that the most unimpressive or unstable parts are broken down and rebuilt, over time adding to the complexity.

I love to spend time in art galleries and museums. Now I don't have the right language to describe the works that I see, and I often have never heard of the artists. And sometimes, I think the art works are ugly. But why I keep going back, and why I keep wanting to go away on yet another trip to some exciting new city, is that these experiences raise so many questions for me. They give you new perspectives and insights. For example, I wouldn't have a second thought if I went to visit a friend and interrupted them painting or drawing. Yet I would definitely wonder if I visited the same friend and interrupted them in the middle of playing with some lego. Why is that? Why does my mind seem to suggests an adult playing with lego is more unusual than an adult painting a picture?

I guess there are a number of lessons to learn here. The first, is that inspiration for good questions can come from anywhere. We shouldn't necessarily just look for inspiration in the obvious places. The second lesson is that even when we have hit the wall (like when you have nothing to say for your 28 days of writing post), you sometimes need to just do it anyways. Much like the lego exhibit, we can add one tiny brick at a time. Over time, this develops into complexity and creativity. Even if our first idea did not start that way. Sometimes, it's about having a go even when we feel uninspired. And finally, the lego also reminded me to keep challenging my preconceptions, my ideology and my assumptions. Undoubtedly, it is our own preconceptions that hold us back in life from so much.

It seems the educational value of lego has transcended very well into adulthood.