This weekend I built. I did something I didn’t think I could do and built…well, technically, I modified, but it was still an accomplishment. I took an Ikea bookcase, one of the large ones, and added crown molding to it to make it look fancier then primed and painted the entire thing (6’X6’X1.5′). This may not seem like much but I’m not a known DIYer, I’m more of a thrower-awayer and buyer of newer.
I’ve never considered myself a builder. As a kid Lego was never my thing, I was more likely to rip the heads and arms off of dolls and action figures or to experiment in light arson. For as long as I remember, I’ve been a destroyer, a force of ruination. At the very least, I have lived as an oaf, a clumsy ogre bumbling my way through the day leaving a path of rubble in my wake. A destroyer of toys, a wrecker of personal relationships, an obliterator of my body, a demolitionist of career ambition, an exterminator of overwrought metaphors.
So, this weekend felt like a turning point. Like I am capable of creating something, crafting or modifying something into a thing I can be proud of. And I think that’s an important mind-shift. I think we should all want to think of ourselves as builders and crafters and creators as though we’re making something, moving forward, progressing ourselves and, hopefully, society. I know that in my building there is an element of destruction, the yards of wood that I used and some wasted probably came from a rainforest, but at least I’m trying to make use of previously destroyed things.
The importance of the “builder” versus the “destructor” mentality was no more apparent than this weekend with Beirut and Paris. Not that I’m equating my rebuilding a crappy Ikea bookcase with multiple national tragedies…even though that’s exactly what I just did. There’s not much I can do about terrorist attacks. Then, I went onto Facebook (a great destroyer of relationships and personal image) and realized that my roll in terrorist attacks is not to be a complete jerk in the aftermath. A friend of a friend somehow managed to take these tragedies and bizarrely connect them to his wildly incorrect political beliefs regarding global warming and gun ownership. Hey, why not take death and chaos as an opportunity to offensively push misguided agendas? Because it’s mentally destructive. All I have to do to be a builder is not use tragedies like these to accrue imaginary political points. Or even to follow my destructive impulses to question people’s disingenuous mourning.
I also have to temper my newly found ability to not destroy. After finishing painting, I walked around my house looking at things and thinking, I could build that. That picture frame, I could make that. Slow down, Bob the Builder. Maybe, instead of thinking I’m adept at construction, I need to focus on growing. Maybe I should plant some seeds and figure out how to nurture things so that they have healthy growth instead of taking old things and reconfiguring them into new things. When I think about growth, I realize that being a builder is a minimum. Sheesh, I have a lot of personal building to do to get to growth. Or maybe this entire scree was an existential crisis relating to my insecurities about the world and my roll in it and I need to relax.