Like most of the children in fourth grade, I kept a large box of legos in my closet, which slowly grew until I had to regularly find larger and larger boxes to store it in, like a hermit crab. Buried in its depths were countless creations, such as the stairway of a rainbow-colored castle, two flat pieces that repeatedly refused to separate, and an underwater explorer whose helmet was welded to his face due to an unfortunate baking accident. These failures, though seemingly useless, remind me of what hasn’t worked in the past, so that I don’t make the same mistake when I try again.
Growing up with an older, jealous brother, I quickly learned that a single-layered lego wall wouldn’t be enough, that extra padding was necessary, that interlocking blocks made sturdier walls than simply placing equal sized blocks one on top of another. I soon began conducting tests of my own. This usually involved dropping the creation from our balcony or striking it repeatedly with a blunt object. I stopped adding to my cabinet of legos when the price of a small box exceeded that of a minor surgical operation or a used car. I did make sure my mother never sold my collection in a garage sale, however.
Even now I’ll open my closet and improve on ideas. Just a few days ago I had finished my homework and was about to o to bed when I decided I wasn’t tired yet. It was midnight, and as if I was under the spell of the witching hour, I opened my closet door and picked up one of my failed legos. This particular invention was supposed to reel up objects on the first floor from the balcony so that I wouldn’t have to go myself. As I turned over the crumpled mass of blocks and thread in my hands, I had a sudden spark of inspiration. Working feverishly into the morning, I added on to the original design. The main problem was that the thread was too thin to reel up a cell phone or stapler. I substituted twine for thread and went to sleep at around three in the morning, feeling very content.
The next morning I woke up to the sound of “Beautiful Day” by U2 playing on my alarm clock, and leapt out of bed as if it were Christmas Day. I dropped my cell phone down to the living room, uncoiled the twine, brought the phone back upstairs as a sense of accomplishment washed over me. After a while, legos have begun to preach a mindset that I live by outside of my cabinet of toys. They have taught me that making mistakes is okay, as long as I try again and attempt to correct the mistakes I made before. They encourage me to constantly seek improvement in my ideas, to pick up the broken blocks of a failure and build something better.
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