Can LEGO® Create Personal Ethics?

The LEGO® challenge for today was to build a sphere. Specifically the smoothest sphere possible. The definition for smooth is ‘having an even and regular surface; free from perceptible projections, lumps, or indentations.’ That was generally what I had in mind when I started. Without looking up the actual meaning of smooth beforehand, I assumed that empty space was allowed. Wow, that is strange. I’m restricting myself to rules for an activity that I am doing on my own, which is not being submitted for evaluation and that does not matter what the resulting creation looks like. Wow.

I wonder if this says something about me. Why do I need to conform to some sort of standard or expectation for everything I take on? Is that normal? The point of building random ‘things’ with bricks is to unlock new ideas. At least that is why I love these exercises so much. It is not what gets made that is the point, it is the process. There is something magical about building with our hands that is not the same experience when done digitally.

By now I have realized that making or creating with my hands is a critical activity, one that is at the core of how I want to be in the world. I’ve tried to restrict myself to only working in the digital space and I can’t manage. I end up diverting to physical tasks, like a horse to water. Manipulating with materials to create something with my hands is as essential to me as breathing. OK, I’ve declared it, I’ve written at length about this, I own it.

Now I want to ponder the idea of rules. Since my earliest memories, there have always been rules. I’ve been part of a family, I’ve attended school, I’ve worked at various jobs. I’ve lived in rented spaces, I’ve borrowed money from banks. I’ve travelled on various forms of public transportation and used healthcare systems. I’ve driven on roads in the quiet of the countryside and the bustle of a city network. All of these societal systems and situations have rules. Thankfully. I say that because if we had to navigate all that on a daily basis without a framework of universal understanding, our brains would be in complete overload. We need many of those shortcuts to maintain order and to make life easier.

Maybe that is why some rules are comforting to me. With a set of standards to fall back on, life is so much easier. By eliminating all that is not allowed or possible, getting to the good stuff is a speedier affair. To take this to another level, these personal rules might even be called ethics – ‘moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity.’ While this spherical build discussion may have taken a serious turn, ethics probably shouldn’t be viewed that way. Spending some quality time with myself pondering ethics is a fruitful exercise.

Back to the build. Having assembled many kits according to instruction books, the one thing you can count on is stability. The outcome of leaving holes in an effort to look smooth is fragility. The build which resulted from today’s prompt is extremely sensitive to being handled. It would be impossible to re-create or to give instructions for duplication. Which is fine and interesting at the same time. At the moment I let go of the way it is supposed to be, I seem to veer into a space which requires a soft touch.

Maybe part of the fun of building with bricks is to not worry about the longevity of the outcome. This is just for fun and the act of clicking bits together is what I find so enjoyable. Sure, it would be nice if it was strong. Yes, having everything in the same color would be pleasing to the eye. I can’t even imagine what kind of collection would be required for color matching. I wonder also, how many more hours, days, weeks or years would it take to become an expert? More than I have. I’ve conceded that I’ll never be a LEGO® designer. And so, I enjoy what I have!

The result of my sphere is a multifaceted smooth surfaced orb with plenty of space in-between the elements to allow for creativity to flourish. This exercise has demanded that I slow down and consider carefully how each piece might fit into the next. SPEED and CONSIDERATION are two of my personal ethics. I think the world moves too fast generally and somehow we have become too self centred for my taste. Considering how we all fit together, how we must fit together in an ever connected planet is important beyond measure.

Have a go at building into your ethics. If you want to make something round – How to Make a Lego Ball. That one is not smooth, but it is an interesting building technique. To make it smooth, the SNOT method is required. (Studs Not On Top). Knowing how to do something and then using the learning to take it to another level is a good way to develop creativity. To that end, have a look at LEGO Club Activity Ideas or The Lego Challenge team-building exercise: harness the power of play. Enjoy!


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