buildings and bridges

I remember being a young boy, when on a particularly cold winter’s day when school was canceled and I chose to spend it in my room building a newly gotten Lego(1) set(2). I dumped all the pieces from the box onto the oversized wooden table – a sea of blue, grey and black bricks with the occasional yellow, dark red or green. These raw materials would, in an hour or so, become the largest space station ever in my collection. The instruction manual crinkled in my excited grasp.

How much time passed, I can’t say. But I was nearly finished when I discovered I didn’t have a blue large-two brick. Lego sets almost always have a few extra pieces that you don’t need to complete the project, but in my experience they’d always at least had the pieces you would need.

Before I pulled the necessary brick from my vast Lego supply, I was determined to figure out how I got myself into this particular pickle. I examined the pages of the manual, checking it against the space station I was erecting…and there it was. At one of the early steps, I’d used two blue large-two bricks instead of a blue large-four brick.

How the hell did I let that happen?!

After spotting this clear lapse in attention, I decided that the best and most logical way to fix the problem was to take the whole thing apart and start over.

So I did.

I’ve done the same thing with everything from blogs to relationships. Even a marriage.(3)

If it’s something I care about and I screw up in the slightest bit, it’s somehow best to scuttle the whole damn thing and start over.

It occurs to me that this doesn’t make any damn sense at all.

Perfection is unattainable, at least in any way beyond a moment or two. To strive for it is admirable, but futile. To tear down what I’ve built up because I haven’t built it perfectly is insanity.

I can accept that I’m going to screw things up.
I just can’t accept it when I do.

Buildings and bridges
are made to bend in the wind
to withstand the world…
what doesn’t bend breaks,
what doesn’t bend breaks.
(4)


  1. Lego is a registered trademark of Lego Group, a private, family-owned company based in Billund, Denmark.
  2. It had been a Christmas present. If you have any familiarity with the American school system and if you’re paying attention, you realize that I’d have this particular toy for at least two weeks and hadn’t touched it yet. I was a strange child, and typically played with my new Christmas toys on a one-by-one basis. The first toy I opened was usually a new Transformer(a), followed by whatever I never thought was coolest. So it often took me a month to get to all of my toys.
    1. Transformers is a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc.
  3. Though, without the starting over part.
  4. From “Buildings and Bridges” by Ani DiFranco.
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