A Constructive Life

A Constructive Life

From the title it might seem that this portion of the GOGOBEAR mission statement is about living a meaningful life that serves a useful purpose.  But, A-HA I have fooled you with the English language.  This post is really about my goals in building things, things that I am constructing in my life.

I like to build things, I always have.  I am a Lego builder from way back.  I built an x-wing fighter and the Last Starfighter without plans from just my thoughts.  Sure they aren’t as accurate as those purposely designed kits, but I love them the same.  I built like a biologist/artist.  Starting with a vision and an idea of the purpose and go.  It is a way of thinking that is different from engineering and architectural building.  It is hard to explain.  It is about vision and creation, trial and error, purpose and function.  It is the difference in thinking between Star Wars and Star Trek (if you don’t understand see explanation at the end of this pos**t; if you’ve never seen them or don’t like them well you are just going to have to skip this analogy and go on to the next part of the blog).

20160207_031558833_iOS

IKEA in progress step 2.

Wood is like Legos for adults.  Sure there are some rules, but if I can make it fit together it works.  Plus if I want to follow plans you can.  If I want to build a kit I can (thanks to IKEA).  I love designing things and putting them together.  This is of course also part of my creative life.  The idea of building something with my own plans or modifying some else’s plans to better suit my needs is a terrific challenge.

The reality of building like a biologist/artist is that sometimes it doesn’t work out.  The vision in your head doesn’t match the physical manifestation.  But that is the challenge part, it is the problem solving part.  How do I make something? How do I problem solve to fix it so that it does what I need it to do?  How do I make some changes so that it is functional, but also aesthetically pleasing?

bookcase wonky

Bookcase built and designed by me.

As I have acknowledged, I’m not good at the technical portion of building.  Why then would I want to build things as a hobby.  The answer is, I can’t play guitar, there is only so much writing one can do as a hobby, I don’t have enough room for tropical fish keeping to become a proper hobby, and building provides tangibility.  Nothing is as satisfying as completing a building project.  Even the completion of an IKEA dresser comes with a level of satisfaction I often miss in my work life.  In my work life, projects seem to be endless, and even those that end seem to drag out to the point that a specific point of completion is hard to recognize.  This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy my work, just building a project makes me happy because it provides a specific, finite, tangible (and hopefully usable) end product.

So with that in mind, I need to think about what my actual goals are in a Constructive Life.  Most of these are going to be short term, with a few longer term skill building goals.  This will be something I can see changing over time, as there is a limit to the number of things you can build based on the size of your living area and budget.

So here are some Goals – to read more specifics about these goals follow the link to a Constructive Life.

  1. Learn how to use tools well, including table saw and router
  2. Improve furniture we already have.
  3. Build solid, stable fish tank stands
  4. Make small projects as gifts
  5. Build all of the Star Wars Legos I own.
  6. Build cool functional bookcases that can house all our books and knick-knacks.
  7. Build a kitchen table.
The start of a small project

The start of a small project

**The way I like to think about how biological/artistic thinking is different from that of mathematical/engineering thinking is the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek.  I love Star Wars, but Star Trek never filled me with the same joyfulness and sense of adventure.  The difference is that Star Wars never cared how the engines worked or how a lightsaber functions, they just exist.  It was about the vision and the story.  Nobody gives a shit about where the bathrooms were on the Millennium Falcon, just that it could make the Kessel Run less than 12 parsecs.  Star Trek was/is technical.  It is a beloved by engineers because it has a specific set of rules and boundaries.  Even when they do something fantastical (like go back in time) it is bound by the rules of math and physics.  It is a good story, but it is linear thinking.  Star Wars is about the arc of a story, about problem solving outside the box.

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