October 19, 2012

I’m a builder. I love the way an idea flows from the mind into something you can see or touch – something real.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about when my love for building began. I’ve always had a creative streak in me; in fourth grade I made a pretty impressive diorama of Pompeii, if I do say so myself, and in fifth grade I hosted a spinoff of “Classic Concentration” with baseball cards as a class book presentation on The Trading Game. In high school I handed in an essay entitled “My Dog Ate My Homework” on a heavily-crumpled sheet of paper with one corner missing. Those projects – the ones with enough flexibility to allow me to explore the boundaries – were always the ones I loved. They never felt like work, and I wanted the final product to be perfect.

Lately the things I’ve built aren’t tangible. I have many thousands of photos stored on a hard drive, and I have web projects both for work and for myself in various stages of completion. The feeling’s still there, though. When I have that ability to play, that ability to explore… it never feels like work.

Sometimes I wonder whether actual work-with-your-hands craftsmen feel the same way about the things they make. There’s a special kind of connection with your work that you feel when you first see it roughly take shape, and it grows and grows until the thing you hold or see matches what you imagined in your mind. You made that. It’s tough for me to understand why everyone doesn’t have that same drive.

Over the past few weeks I’ve worked on a few projects that have really allowed me to experiment and explore. I’m doing some of the best work of my life. Through all the frustration I feel when I’m boxed in for some projects, it’s amazing to feel that sense of connection again with projects I truly love.

They don’t feel like work. I want the final product to be perfect. It’s that Pompeii diorama all over again – and I love it.